Capitol Alert

Legislature OKs selfies at the ballot box

Soraya Manzor, of Chile, takes a selfie underneath the pavilion after the swearing in ceremony to become a U.S. citizen. A bill passed by the Assembly Monday would allow voters to take selfies with their ballots.
Soraya Manzor, of Chile, takes a selfie underneath the pavilion after the swearing in ceremony to become a U.S. citizen. A bill passed by the Assembly Monday would allow voters to take selfies with their ballots. rbyer@sacbee.com

Voters in California would be free to snap a selfie with their ballots if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill passed by the Assembly on Monday.

Assembly Bill 1494 by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, would allow voters to “voluntarily disclose” how they voted, modifying the current law that prevents marked ballots from being shown to anyone else. Although technically illegal now, the floor analysis of the bill says: “The Secretary of State's office indicates that they have no records of a voter ever having been prosecuted in the state for showing his or her marked ballot to another person.”

Voluntary disclosure would include sharing photos of a ballot on social media, according to Ethan Jones, a consultant for the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting who analyzed the bill.

A previous version of the bill specifically allowed voters to take and share photos of their ballots, but the bill was amended in the Senate to include the broader language.

“I see this as a First Amendment issue,” Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, one of the bill’s coauthors, said on the floor Monday. “All this does is to say that those who want to share how they voted have the right to do so.”

Not all members agreed. Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, argued that a constitutional amendment is necessary to allow people to disclose their votes. Article 2, Section 7 of the California constitution simply reads, “Voting shall be secret.”

The Assembly passed the bill 57-11 on Monday. If Brown signs it into law, it would take effect Jan. 1 of next year, well after the Nov. 8 election.

Anshu Siripurapu: 916-321-1060, @AnshuSiripurapu

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