The media across the country is buzzing with great fear: is it illegal for a person to photograph and share their ballot via social media like Instagram? While some states seem to outlaw this practice, in Hawaii, it seems to be completely legal. Though we have to emphasize the “seems to be” part.
Hawaii state law is marvelously, bizarrely, incredibly ambiguous on the matter of sharing votes with the public:
“If any person having received a ballot leaves the polling place without first delivering the ballot to the precinct official as provided above, or wilfully exhibits the person’s ballot or the person’s unvoted ballots in a special primary or primary election, except as provided in section 11-139 and 11-132, after the ballot has been marked, the person shall forfeit the person’s right to vote, and the chairperson of the precinct officials shall cause a record to be made of the proceeding”
Yeah, you read that right: while the law talks about “exhibiting” ballots in a primary election, it says nothing about the general election.
That being said, there are signs posted at various polling places saying cell phones are prohibited. To find out more, MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo called Maui County Clerk Jeffrey Kuwada, who is in charge of county elections, and asked him what the deal was with people photographing and sharing their own ballots.
“We follow the state law,” was all Kuwada would say.
But one elections official Russo spoke with who requested anonymity admitted that any prohibition on sharing marked ballots was unenforceable. What’s more, the official actually liked the idea of people photographing and sharing their marked ballots, since it seems to drum up more support for voting.
And that’s a good thing, right?