Don't take that ballot selfie! State election officials say it's illegal

When you're in the voting booth waiting to cast your ballot for the 2018 midterm election, you may be tempted to snap a picture of your ballot to prove you made it count.

However, taking that picture is against the law in North Carolina and could land you on the radar of state elections officials.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement is reminding voters you are allowed to take your phone or other electronic devices into the voting booth with you, as long as you don't use it to take photos of your voted ballot or communicate with anyone.

Election officials warn that one reason photographing a marked ballot is illegal is because it could be used as proof in a vote-buying scheme.

Related: Where you can and can't take a 'ballot selfie,' state by state

Patrick Gannon, a spokesperson for the NCSBE, told ABC11 the board receives few complaints about ballot selfies, but when they do, it's usually out of ignorance of the law rather than intent.

For that reason, the board's typical response is to interview and warn the offender and to follow up with an official written warning which is maintained in the case file.

If faced with a repeat offender or an aggravated incident such as widespread circulation of ballot photos, Gannon said the board could send the case to the appropriate district attorney for investigation.

ABC11's news-gathering partners at the News & Observer reported on a post that appeared on Rep. Chris Malone's Twitter account after early voting started last week. The post, which has since been deleted, encouraged people to vote early and showed a picture of a voted ballot with the bubble next to the Wake Forest Republican's name filled in.

Gannon told ABC11 the board looked into the post and the individual who took the photo has been advised of the law and will receive a written warning. No further action is expected.

In 2016, the NCSBE had two reported cases of ballot selfies. One was resolved by the board issuing a warning and the offender removing the post. The other report, Gannon said, was unsubstantiated as the picture appeared to be of a sample ballot.
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