ATLANTA — With the countdown to election day just seven weeks away, one Cherokee County voter reached out to the 11Alive Verify team asking whether you can take a picture of your ballot at your polling location after voting?
The viewer said the question was asked at a September county board of elections meeting.
Is it illegal to take a picture of your ballot at your polling place in Georgia?
Yes, Georgia law prohibits using a camera, recording device, or a cell phone while inside a polling location. It is illegal to take a picture of a completed ballot or voting machine screen while voting is underway.
WHAT WE FOUND
The Constitution of the State of Georgia affirms "elections by the people shall be by secret ballot," and that secrecy is upheld by Georgia law, which states you can't use a camera, recording device, or a cell phone while inside a polling location.
According to GA Code 21-2-413 (2020), "no person shall use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices, cameras, or cellular telephones while such person is in a polling place while voting is taking place."
While the reason is not explicitly stated in the law's text, the National Conference of State Legislatures provides historical context.
"Voting in secret, as opposed to a voice vote that was more common in the early part of U.S. history, guards against coercion and bribery," the NCSL states on its website. " In addition to expressly calling for a secret ballot, over time many states have also seen reasons to prohibit or limit the use of cameras in polling places. These have been enacted both to protect the privacy of voters and also to limit disruptions in the polling place."
Ultimately, state laws vary with some allowing the photography of ballots or "ballot selfies." But in Georgia, it continues to be illegal to take a picture of a completed ballot or voting machine screen while voting is underway, even if it's your own ballot.