Kentucky AG says ‘ballot selfies’ not illegal, but urges caution

Published 7:14 pm Monday, November 7, 2016

The office of the attorney general is advising voters to be cautious about taking “ballot selfies” on election day.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes requested the attorney general’s opinion on whether or not it is against the law for a Kentucky voter to take a “ballot selfie.” 

In a ruling signed by Assistant Attorney General Taylor Payne, the AG office ruled that “Kentucky law does not prohibit a voter from taking a ‘ballot selfie.’”

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Laws do prohibit voters from using their phones or other devices to record and reveal the identity of other voters in the room. Voters are also prohibited from communicating who they support or don’t support while they’re still in the voting area, according to the ruling.

“We are compelled to urge voters to exercise caution to refrain from inadvertently recording the identity of other voters or other ballots in the voting room or communicating their ballot choices while they are still in the room,” the ruling reads.

KRS laws do not prohibit a voter from using their phones to record his or her identity or ballot, according to the ruling.

“If the legislature had intended to prohibit ‘ballot selfies,’ it would have done so with clear language indicating this intent, or language that summarily prohibited the use of photographic or other electronic monitoring devices in the voting room, as other state legislatures have done,” the ruling reads. 

Boyle County Clerk Trille Bottom said she would prefer not allowing cell phones in polling places at all.

“I don’t totally agree with the opinion of the attorney general,” Bottom said. “I understand why the opinion was what it came out to be.” 

Bottom said the precinct officers are trained to not allow cell phones in the voting room and there are also signs posted that state cell phones are not allowed. 

When people take selfies, there’s a risk of other people in the room getting in the photo, Bottom said. 

She said with the turnout expected for this election, it will be harder for officers to watch for people with their phones. 

“I’m not comfortable with voters taking selfies,” she said. “We will abide by the attorney general’s opinion, but we discourage it for voters. We don’t think it’s the best practice.” 

Bottom said she doesn’t foresee a problem with voters taking ballot selfies.

“We will do the best we can do and try to keep an eye on things,” she said. “Everyone get out there and vote.”