Update: Photographing and Tweeting Ballots Is NOT Illegal in New York

Those who wish to Tweet and Instagram inside the polling center can breathe easy

Update, 4:15 pm: Conflicting media reports Tuesday afternoon caused a flurry of Internet conversations as to whether photographing a ballot in New York State is illegal, as it is in other states.

When reached by phone, Deputy Director of Public Information for the Board of Elections Tom Connolly told Patch that at this time the board’s lawyers have deemed “there is nothing in the law that prohibits you from photographing your ballot.” 

Connolly stated that while sharing the contents of your ballot with another individual is illegal, sharing an image of a ballot is not—because that ballot may be altered after the photograph is taken.

“Just because there is a photo of your ballot or a portion of your ballot online doesn’t mean it is the ballot you cast,” he said. “You could crumple it up and cast a new one instead afterward.”

Tweet away, readers.


As pictures of long lines, "I VOTED" stickers and thumbs up pervade the Internet on Election Day in Brooklyn, there is one image voters should not be sharing over social media—photos of completed ballots.

According to NY State law 17-130, it's illegal for anyone to show "his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents."

That includes "by photographing or filming one's own vote at the time of voting and afterwards displaying the image on a publicly accessible platform like the Internet" as cited on CitimediaLaw.org.

So feel free to shoot us your pics outside the poll center and enjoying your post-vote coffee, just not of anything concerning your private ballots.

Kai MacMahon November 06, 2012 at 10:03 PM
It may not be *technically* illegal here in NYC, but it is in a bunch of states (including Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia), so why would you take the risk? And the Board of Elections people had to consult their lawyers before giving a definitive answer, so better safe than sorry imo.
LR November 06, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Can someone please answer this question. When I voted this morning, the person standing by the polling machine said it did not matter if paper went in FACE UP or FACE DOWN.. Someone just told me that he was told must be face UP! Does it matter?
Michael Woyton (Editor) November 06, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I was told to put mine in face down and the machine said the votes registered.
Jessica Horvath November 06, 2012 at 10:50 PM
who cares? It is MY ballot. If I want to broadcast it to the universe isn't that my right? Who cares?
Keleas November 06, 2012 at 11:16 PM
i was told it didnt matter how it went in. I was going to put it in face up, but wasnt sure what end should go first. Whatever way i put it in, i guess it was wrong because the screen stated the vote was not read and to try again. It spit the ballot out. The nice lady volunteer flipped it another way and this time the screen said the vote had been cast. Did your screen say your ballot had been cast? Did it keep the ballot? If so, you're fine. I think the law isnt to keep people from willingly revealing how they voted, but to keep others from pressuring voters into showing them the ballot before it is cast ( family members, employers, etc). So if your spouse demanded to see your ballot before you voted, oops sorry dear that's strictly against the law.
Lin November 07, 2012 at 12:04 AM
I put mine through face up, it was not read...put it in again face down, ballot was cast! The man at polls told me the same thing...doesn't matter how it was put through.
tom kelty November 07, 2012 at 01:30 AM
well, You might care! because if it was face up the scanner wouldnt read it! so i guess you voted for Ob?
Walter Isaacs November 07, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Many states prohibit this because the theory is if you were to sell your vote then posting a picture is proof that you voted that way.
Don Pachner November 07, 2012 at 02:15 AM
It does not matter whether face up, or face down...and I hope all Bedford voters noticed that part of the ballot is on the reverse side!
Sami November 07, 2012 at 03:25 AM
It should go face down. If you put it in face up it wont be read and would be returned to you as unsuccessful, so then you would have put it back through face down. I put my own ballot through the machine and had to wait until it said successful, ballot cast.
John K Massaro November 07, 2012 at 03:52 AM
It can go in either way. I put mine in face-up & it worked just fine...
leck November 07, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Direction or side up does not matter. The ballot can be put in face-up or face-down. Both sides are scanned. I'm an election worker and today people did it both ways.


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