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Tweeting your completed ballot is illegal in Rhode Island

November 6, 2012

Given the ubiquity of smart phones, it’s no surprise that a lot of people sent out images of their completed ballots today via Twitter.

Old friend David Bernstein of the Phoenix quickly found out that doing that is illegal in Masachusetts. Photo-tweeting your ballot is also illegal in Rhode Island, according to Robert Kando, executive director of the state Board of Elections.

Kando says the concern is that a photo of a marked ballot could be used in a vote-buying scheme.

Here’s the relevant statute, as provided by Chris Barnett of the Secretary of State’s office:

Electronic recording of the election process is allowed inside the polling place as long as it is done outside of the railed or enclosed voting area. Electronic recording devices may not hinder the election process or compromise a voter’s right to cast a secret ballot by recording the specific votes(s) cast by any person.

Kando says there haven’t been any prosecutions for violating this criminal statute during his eight years with the Board of Elections.

Asked whether the board would prosecute people for distributing ph0tos of their completed ballots, he says it would depend on what direction he gets from the board.

Other media, including CNN, have also run with the story.

File this one under another burgeoning and unforeseen consequence of changing technology.

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