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Think Twice Before Posting A Photo Of Your Ballot Online

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) - It's okay to take a selfie with a ballot in hand, but don't you dare show who you voted for. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams says it's a misdemeanor that carries up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

"The reason for that is the possibility of selling the vote or trading the vote for something," Williams told CBS4's Rick Sallinger.

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He said the pictures could be used as proof for payment that they voted as instructed.

The prohibition is not just in Colorado but in various states around the country. It has been challenged successfully in courts in Indiana and New Hampshire.

The Denver District Attorney's Office sent out a news release reminding voters that posting selfies with filled in ballots is against the law in Colorado:

"Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey is reminding voters that there is a state law prohibiting voters from showing their completed ballot to others. This would include posting your completed ballot on social media. Colorado is one of many states that ban a ballot selfie. The law … states that "no voter shall show his ballot after it is prepared for voting to any person in such a way as to reveal its contents." It is a misdemeanor violation. The prohibition on sharing completed ballot results is an effort to guard against potential voter fraud."

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Colorado American Civil Liberties Union legal director Mark Silverstein claims the district attorney's news release is a threat to voters and he calls it a crazy law,

"I thought that issuing that release at this point is like tacitly threatening to prosecute people for exercising their rights to take photographs with their ballots," Silverstein said.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger interviews Colorado American Civil Liberties Union legal director Mark Silverstein (credit: CBS)

A spokesperson for the Denver district attorney said the news release was not a threat.

The law against showing a vote may have teeth, but not much of a bite.

Sallinger asked Williams if anyone was ever been prosecuted.

"I cannot speak to ever; I cannot think of anyone the last few years," Williams said.

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State Sen. Paul Rosenthal says he has tried to get rid of the law multiple times, but failed. He said he will try again.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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