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Like this if you posted your ballot on social media

TRIBUNE ILLUSTRATIONWe get it. You’re excited about Tuesday’s primary election and you want everyone to know how you voted. So you post a picture of your marked ballot on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Until a couple years ago, you were committing a crime under Oregon election law. Now, it’s OK to post your marked May 17 primary ballot to Facebook.

Like just about everything else in cyberspace, Oregon election law has been overwhelmed by social media, and lawmakers changed the law in 2014 allowing people to show their marked ballots to others.

Today, you can post photos of your marked ballots on social media without fear of breaking state election laws.

Molly Woon, spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, says legislators added the go-ahead-and-post-a-photo-of-your-ballot piece to a bill because of everyone’s overwhelming urge to tell their Facebook friends how they voted. It repealed a one-sentence rule in ORS 260.695 that made it illegal to show your marked ballot to another person.

“There were pieces of the bill added because of the concern that people wanted to post their ballots on social media,” Woon says.

Woon says she can’t recall anyone being prosecuted under the old rule for showing their ballots to others.

“I think that it was clear in the cases before that there was no malintent,” she says. “People were just proud that they voted and they wanted to show people on social media.”

First Amendment lawsuit

Oregon isn’t alone in allowing ballots on social media. Hawaii’s legislature pondered a bill early this year that would change its election laws to allow the same thing. The bill was introduced in January, but withered in a committee by March.

It took a 2014 American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit to block a 1979 New Hampshire law against showing marked ballots to anyone else. The law was amended two years ago to include digital images of ballots.

The ACLU challenged the law on behalf of three New Hampshire residents who had run afoul of its social media provisions, claiming their First Amendment rights were violated. A federal judge agreed, and tossed out the state’s 2014 law.

For a picture of the hodgepodge of laws governing ballots and social media, check out the Digital Media Law Project list of states and how they handle posting images of marked ballots on social media.

Kevin L. Harden is digital media editor for Pamplin Media Group. 503-546-5167. email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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