One day before legislators adjourned for the year, they passed House Bill 1259, allowing Oklahoma voters to take voting booth selfies of their marked election ballots.
All those Facebook pics people were posting to show they did their part to support a favorite candidate or issue were, technically, illegal in Oklahoma.
The law was designed to prevent employers, union bosses and other authority figures from pressuring voters: We have a secret ballot and it should be secret.
But the Facebook posters weren’t trying to curry favor with their bosses. They were just having some fun and trying to get like-minded voters to show up. We’re all in favor of more voting, less apathy.
Last year, legislators passed a similar measure, but Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed it in the name of protecting voters against “intimidation and propaganda electioneering.” She called for stronger provisions to prevent voter intimidation associated with picture posting.
The new law obliges. As of Nov. 1, it will be legal to post a ballot selfie so long as you do so voluntarily.
But anyone who does so to coerce illegally others into voting one way or another is guilty of a misdemeanor. And no employers, supervisors, union leaders or other heavies can demand online ballot pictures be posted. In either case, violation is a misdemeanor that could result in up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $500.
Sometimes, you have to just build the sidewalks where the well-worn paths show people are walking — even if you had “Stay Off the Grass” signs posted. The Legislature did the right thing when it made ballot selfies legal. The ban did little to prevent people from doing what they were going to do anyway. It just promoted derision for law.