Crowdsourcing Election Verification, part 3

In part 1 I advocated photographing your completed ballot before submitting it and posting your photograph online.  Turns out that if you followed this piece of advice in Missouri, you might be in jail right now.  Oops!  Sorry :-)

I’m not even clear whether doing what I did in revealing the contents of my ballot textually would be illegal in Missouri or not.  Or in Nevada where I voted for that matter.  Of course it would be a silly and slippery slope if it were illegal to reveal the contents without using a photo.  For one, I could have lied and not really voted according to what I posted — as far as I know blogging falsehoods is still legal.  Also, what if I posted my choices before the actual vote, like op ed columnists do?  And what if I did so prospectively but scheduled the post to be published after the vote happened?  Or if I tried to post before the vote but the system was slow and it didn’t actually get posted until after the vote?

Anyone who can clear up the legalities, both federally and also on a per state basis, please comment below.

hat tip: Ace Bailey

  • ExMember

    Anything that would make it possible to prove how you voted is probably illegal because it would also make it possible to sell your vote.

  • I understand the intent of the law. You could take a picture of your ballot as proof that you’d voted the way someone paid you to vote. But, this is just absurd. The law is way too vague: “willfully sharing the contents of a completed ballot”? Does that mean I can’t even tell someone how I voted after the fact?

    The poker analogy is that you can only discuss your hand if you’re lying. I can’t tell a player exactly what cards I’m holding, but I can lie without penalty.

    So, the same thing goes for voting… I can tell you who I voted for only if I’m lying… but by lying, and by virtue of the fact that you know I must be lying, I’ve still “willfully shared” the (negative) contents of my ballot.

    I’m confused. This is stupider than it sounds. Sounds like Chrismer has too much free time on his hands.

    Oshie was one of the few bright spots in the Blues season ending loss last night to the Canucks. I hope he doesn’t run for anything… the Blues need him :-)

  • I’ve done some research and here’s what I’ve found so far:

    • The only jurisdiction where showing one’s ballot should matter is where the person voted. In Nevada, where I voted, under NRS 293.730 (1)(e), it’s a gross misdemeanor to “[s]how [your] ballot to any person, after voting, so as to reveal any of the names voted for.” It’s not clear what this means for a post on the internet. In theory one could use geo-location to (mostly) stop a web page from being served in Nevada, but there are no guarantees. It’s also not clear what the definition of “showing” your ballot is. I can see where a photo would count, but how about a textual reconstruction of the information?

    • Many states have similar statutes.

    • The primary idea behind these statutes is to avoid the possibility of buying votes, e.g., you could make a deal to sell your vote to me (which is illegal) and then prove it by taking a picture of your ballot.

    • Upon consultation with several lawyers, these statutes are likely unconstitutional.

    • I think I’m on safe grounds in Nevada by not taking any photos, and by making clear that the revelation of my choices was not part of a vote-selling scheme. But your mileage may vary. My current advise is to check with a legal expert in your own state before revealing the contents of your ballot to anyone. And definitely don’t take a picture unless you want to be the guinea pig for the constitutionality case :-)