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Ballot selfies come closer to reality in another state

JUNEAU, Alaska -- It soon could be legal to post selfies of marked ballots in Alaska.

The state House on Wednesday passed legislation, 32-8, that would allow voters to share photos, videos or other images of their marked ballots with the public.

They could not, however, show videos or images of their or another person’s marked ballot while in a polling place or within 200 feet of one in an attempt to get someone to vote a certain way. 

“People have new forms of digital expression whether it’s through social media, Facebook and Twitter or texting photos and Snapchat,” said Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, who co-sponsored the bill, CBS affiliate KTVA reports. Kreiss-Tompkins said that the Division of Elections receives a multitude of phone calls after each election cycle from Alaskans who fear they will be prosecuted for breaking state law because of a picture posted.

According to Kreiss-Tomkins, the Division of Elections has been supportive of the effort to update the law to reflect new, digital forms of expression.

But not all of Kreiss-Tomkins’ House colleagues saw the same need for change.

“I fear that this bill will invite electronic mischief, electoral mischief — technology is ever-evolving and technology is disruptive to the traditional processes,” said Rep. Dan Saddler, floor leader for the House Republican minority.

“In my opinion this bill trivializes the process of elections, and the terribly private process becomes a public spectacle. ‘Hold that thought!’” Saddler said as he pretended to take a selfie in the House chambers. “I’m going to vote no on this, to protect the gravity and the sanctity of the ballot.”

The bill next goes to the Senate.

Existing state law prohibits showing a marked ballot, but Alaska’s elections director has said there’s no practical way to enforce that.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 15 states this year have bills addressing ballot selfies and the secrecy of the ballot.

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