Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal & State Senator Brad Hoylman to Introduce the #IVoted Bill

Legislation would overturn New York’s prohibition of ballot selfies, help promote voter turnout
November 9, 2016

New York, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and State Senator Brad Hoylman today announced that they plan to introduce legislation, the #IVoted Bill, to legalize ballot selfies in New York.

“I can hashtag just about anything on social media, but not the fact that I voted by showing my completed ballot,” quipped Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Voting is the most important exercise in a free and democratic society, and we in the government should do all that we can to encourage voting. Allowing people to celebrate online the fact that they participated in our democracy will help increase voter turnout and civic participation.”

Across the United States, voter turnout is notoriously low. Only 57.5% of all eligible voters nationally cast their ballot in the 2012 presidential election. Turnout was slightly worse in New York, with only 53.1% voting for president in 2012.

State Senator Hoylman said: “It’s called participatory democracy for a reason. It just doesn’t make sense that in the 21st century, New Yorkers can’t share their participation in voting, the most fundamental act of our democratic process, on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Our election laws need to be updated to end this anachronistic ban.”

Eighteen states, including New York, currently prohibit voters from taking photographs of their ballots. New York’s prohibition originated as a protection against voter coercion, including employers coercing their employees to vote for or against a certain candidate. The bill, which will be formally introduced in mid- to late-November, will remove the prohibition against ballot photographs, but maintain the protection against intimidation and coercion.

Social media has revolutionized the way that we do everything, and can and should be used to help encourage civic participation. Young people, who are dramatically underrepresented at the polls, but increasingly people of all ages, use social media sites, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and SnapChat, to promote products and people. Why not use social media as a tool to help promote voter turnout?