GREENFIELD, Ind. (WTHR) – An Indiana county is telling its voters – don’t post pictures of your ballot on social media.
It’s a felony.
Hancock County prosecutor Brent Eaton says according to Indiana election code, certain voting booth selfies could lead to some serious jail time. Now he and the county clerk have posted warnings for voters in all polling places.
On the first day of early voting in Hancock County Wednesday, County Clerk Marcia Moore says she discovered a potential crime in the courthouse. Someone notified her about a picture on Facebook of a filled-in ballot from a voting booth.
“Yeah, this morning. The person posted it right next to their ‘I voted’ sticker,” Moore said.
Hancock County leaders say that kind of selfie, showing a completed ballot, is illegal, according to Indiana election law.
“That’s what the law says. Title three is the election law and looking at it, that’s what it says and we would not want somebody to unintentionally put themselves in any kind of legal jeopardy,” Eaton said. “To be clear, you can tell everybody in the world what you did. What you cannot do is actually have images or show that to people.”
The Indiana Code says a violation is actually a felony.
“I think it’s a Level 6 felony, to be quite honest,” Moore said.
That’s punishable by six months to two-and-a-half years in jail. Voters in Greenfield say they had no idea taking a photo of your ballot was a serious crime.
“I never would have thought it would be a felony or you could even get in trouble by it,” said Alexis Carmony. “In the primaries, I had friends who did that on Facebook – a picture of their ballot, a completed ballot.”
“It’s shocking,” added Cristina Butterfield. “A felony could be serious – from your job, to your family, to how your children look at you when you’re older.”
Here’s the Indiana code, cited by the prosecutor:
Indiana Code § 3-14-2-16: (2) “Except when receiving assistance under IC 3-11-9, shows a ballot after it is marked to another person in such a way as to reveal the contents of it or the name of a candidate for whom the person has voted.”
“The state is who provided us with the IC code to make sure we were looking at that clearly and then the prosecutor went from there,” Moore explained.
Wednesday evening, Moore posted signs in Hancock County polling places with the statute and a warning – no social media pictures of your completed ballot. The papers are on the wall in vote centers, signed by Eaton.
“We want to make sure people know what the law is so they do not break it unintentionally,” Eaton said.
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union challenged another Indiana law, Senate Enrolled Act 466, that tried to specifically ban ballot selfies.
The ACLU won and a judge declared the ban unconstitutional. But the Hancock County Prosecutor says that case involved a completely different statute. Also, recent lawsuits nationwide surrounding “voting booth selfies” have caught the attention of federal courts.
But Eaton says they do not affect this particular Indiana law.
“The federal lawsuits have not specifically enjoined this part of the Indiana statute, but there seems to be some rumblings among the federal courts about this specific subject,” Eaton explained.