Judging by all the giddy social media posts and proud citizens wearing their "I Voted" stickers, people are pretty pumped to exert their civic power and exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot in this historic election (or maybe they're just excited for it to be almost over).
But amid all the frenzy of making your voice heard, and sharing that voice on Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and wherever else, be sure you know the state law regarding photography, both at a polling place and in the actual booth, because it's a little murky and you're better off safe than sorry.
According to Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, there is no specific state law against taking a photo of your own completed ballot. That's the letter of the law, but it doesn't really reflect the statute's spirit or the current reality of social media. Most people who would take a photo of their own ballot aren't doing so for personal, private posterity; they're planning to share that picture publicly, which would not be a good thing to do, because under the state's election fraud law, it's a Class 1 felony to intentionally show your marked ballot to another person. (No word on how that applies if you have no social media friends or followers, but in that case, I'm sorry?)
Magney said the the Wisconsin Elections Commission advises voters not to take photos of their completed ballots, and especially not to post them to Facebook, Twitter or any other public forums. Under the Commission's interpretation of state law, "no voter or observer may use any video or still camera inside the polling place while the polls are open for voting, except for news media."
So even though there's not an explicit state prohibition on taking a picture of your ballot, and Magney is not aware of anyone having been prosecuted for doing so, he said the Elections Commission does not encourage photography at polling locations.
"If a member of the public wants to take a picture in a polling place, they can as long as it doesn't cause a disturbance," he said Tuesday. "We generally discourage photography by non-media, but we tell inspectors to just gently remind people that it's against the law to show a marked ballot."
So, in conclusion: booth selfies are banned, avoid disruptive photography in the polling place – especially anything that might intimidate a voter – and don't share a marked ballot on social media.
Just remember the words "Wisconsin Class 1 felony," snap a pic of your "I Voted" sticker outside the polling place and save sharing the proof of your choice for a long-winded Facebook post later.
And don't forget to thank your hardworking election officials.
Happy Election Day, Wisconsin!
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.