“Wisconsin Judge Dismisses Felony Charge in ‘Ballot Selfie’ Case”


A Wisconsin judge on Monday dismissed a felony charge against a school board candidate who had posted a photograph on Facebook of a ballot with his name filled in.

In his ruling, the judge, Paul V. Malloy of Ozaukee County, threw out the count of voter fraud against the man, Paul H. Buzzell, 52, a former school board member in Mequon, a suburb of Milwaukee, who was voted back onto the board during an election in April, online court records show.

Judge Malloy ruled on a motion to dismiss by Mr. Buzzell’s lawyers, who argued that the state law prohibiting so-called ballot selfies was overly broad and violated the constitutional guarantee of free expression.

“What is at stake is branding a politician a felon for declaring to the world that the politician displayed” a marked ballot “showing a vote for himself in an election,” the motion said. Mr. Burrell would have faced a maximum possible sentence of three and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine had he been convicted. He would also have been barred from running for elected office.

The case reflects the debate among states over selfies of ballots and of people showing how they vote. Some legislators have argued that public displays of marked ballots can be used to influence voters in an election or to promote vote buying. Others, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say such laws banning voting selfies on social media restrict free spee….

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