Snapping photos of your filled-in ballot is illegal in Illinois

Voting+booth+in+the+Holmes+Student+Center+in+the+Gallery+Lounge+on+Oct.19.

Patrick Murphy

Voting booth in the Holmes Student Center in the Gallery Lounge on Oct.19.

Greg Gancarz, Reporter

DeKALB — Taking a photo of a filled-in ballot violates Illinois voting laws and can constitute a Class 4 felony in Illinois, according to state legislation

Kane County Circuit Clerk John Cunningham said the law is in place to deter vote-buying, the practice of paying voters to cast their ballot for specific candidates or paying them not to vote a certain way.

The law originates from Chapter 10, Section 29-9 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes and deals with the broader issue of unlawful observation of voting. Any person who “knowingly marks his ballot or casts his vote… so that it can be observed by another person,” can be found guilty of a Class 4 felony, according to the statute.

Class 4 felonies are the lowest level felony offense, but being found guilty of one can still bring a minimum term of 1 year in prison, according to state law. However, Cunningham said he has yet to see someone charged just for photographing a ballot.

“There have been little or none that I know of,” he said.

There is the question of First Amendment rights Cunningham said, but he still advises against the practice in Illinois. 

“At this point in time, you’re better off not doing that until the legislature passes legislation that allows that,” Cunningham said. “Illinoisans wanting to express their civic pride are better off sporting an ‘I voted’ sticker.”

Hawaii, California, Nebraska and Utah have passed legislation which makes the photographing of ballots expressly legal and a judge in New Hampshire struck down the state’s ballot selfie ban according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Editor’s note: This story was updated 11:20 a.m. Nov. 2 to correct an error. The story referred to the “Second Amendment” instead of the “First Amendment.”