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ON YOUR SIDE: Missouri laws regarding Election Day ballot selfies and political attire

Published: Nov. 1, 2020 at 3:45 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The presidential election is only two days away. In Missouri, there are a few rules voters may want to be familiar with before heading to the polls.

The Missouri Secretary of State’s Office explains several election laws within state statutes, including guidelines on ballot selfies and political attire.

Voters who don’t properly follow guidelines on ballot selfies and political attire could face a class four election offense, which could result in one year in prison or up to $2,500 in fines.

BALLOT SELFIES

According to Chapter 115.637, any voter “allowing his or her ballot to be seen by any person with the intent of letting it be known how he or she is about to vote or has voted, or knowingly making a false statement as to his or her inability to mark a ballot” faces a class four election offense.

While the statute doesn’t specifically address whether taking ballot selfie is illegal, a completed ballot would show a voter’s selections, thus displaying intent to vote. It is considered illegal to take a picture of a ballot that’s been filled out. Whether such an instance becomes an offense is left up to the judgment of local election officials.

Ballot selfies are considered legal in at least 20 states, but Missouri is not one of those.

POLITICAL ATTIRE

According to Chapter 115.637, any voter who practices “electioneering” within 25 feet of polling places faces a class four election offense. Electioneering is not specifically defined in the state statute, but could be interpreted as activities or actions that may influence the result of election campaign.

That means wearing a hat, shirt, mask or any apparel that may show your stance on a candidate or ballot issue could be deemed as electioneering by local election officials.

Missouri’s statute also clarifies that actions such as “distributing election literature, posting signs or placing vehicles bearing signs with respect to any candidate” are illegal.

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