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Oklahoma Legislature Passes 'Ballot Selfie' Bill

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a bill clarifying when ballot selfies are OK.

If House Bill 1259 is signed by the governor, voters will be able to take a photo of marked ballots in the voting booth and post it on social media once outside.

"Right now, that’s not real clear. And people are doing that, and it’s causing disruptions. This helps clarify that so there is no problem with understanding what the law is so when people go in to vote, it’s not problem for the people working those polls," said Sen. Lonnie Paxton.

Current state law isn’t clear on whether social media posts involving marked ballots are legal. Sen. Jason Smalley said legislation is not needed to address the issue and pointed to San Bernardino County, California.

"They set up a ballot selfie booth inside the actual election box. They said, 'You know, we’re not going to degrade the election process. We’re not going to make this a bad thing. We’re not going to, you know, bring tarnish to our history and the voting process,'" Smalley said.

HB1259 would also allow voters to share photos of absentee ballots. Smalley said that’s a problem in the age of click farms and buying likes.

"An individual could gather a ton of absentee ballots and create a persuasion campaign, purchase clicks and start generating buzz prior to the election that an individual’s getting more and more and more and more support because of the absentee language," Smaley said.

"And individual could. I mean, today an individual could get killed by a goldfish, but it’s not likely," Paxton said.

The bill is similar to one vetoed last year by then-Gov. Mary Fallin.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.