Is it really illegal to Instagram or Facebook your filled-out ballot? Will Sean Hannity or some other star get arrested or jailed?
—Phil K., via Twitter
Oddly enough, yes, Hannity did apparently commit a no-no by Instagramming a photo of his ballot today in New York. The Fox News talking head has since, reportedly, deleted the damning post, but he's not alone in wanting to share his patriotism. Beyoncé, for one, has released a photo of her with an electronic ballot. And Kim Kardashian has shown a photo of a ballot as well, although photo, like Beyoncé's, doesn't clearly show a presidential preference.
So will Hannity or anyone else go to jail, you ask? I found out.
It's not likely. Yes, in New York, it's technically a misdemeanor to do what Hannity did. Specifically, the law frowns on "Any person who...makes or keeps any memorandum of anything occurring within the booth, or directly or indirectly, reveals to another the name of any candidate voted for by such voter; or shows his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents."
But it would take a local district attorney to press charges against Hannity. And something tells me that the DAs in New York have better things to do.
As for Hannity himself, don't count on him scoffing those ballot laws again anytime soon.
"So I learned a big civics lesson today," he told his radio show audience today. "Now for those of you that have been on past election show... I always share with everybody who I vote for... so I decide I took a picture of my vote and I tweeted it out and then I heard it's not allowed. So I had to—I deleted it—woops! I didn't know, I really didn't, honestly."
New York isn't the only state that has a problem with showing off one's chads. You can't reveal your completed ballot in California, either. According to the law, "After the ballot is marked, a voter shall not show it to any person in such a way as to reveal its contents."
You can, however, display your ballot as much as you want in some other states, such as Illinois, Delaware and Maine. Still other states, such as Florida, prohibit any device with photographic capability to come inside a polling room.
Either way, it's fairly clear from Kardashian's and Beyoncé's photos that they're doing things right: You can't see their choices in politicians, only a ballot in general.
As for why such laws are there, it isn't completely clear, but it may have been an early way to prevent voter intimidation.