This morning, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz sent out a photograph of his completed ballot to his Twitter followers. His message: "Here you go Mr. President. Not the same as a vote in Ohio but one nevertheless for @BarackObama."
Not long after that, some local Twitter users repeated claims that have been on the rise nationally that sharing photographs of completed ballots classified as a misdemeanor. Indeed, a provision of New York State election law actually seemed to indicate that might be true.
I put a call in to Erie County election commissioner Dennis E. Ward, and his answer should put past and future ballot-tweeters at ease. The executive committee of New York State's board of elections met today, discussed the question, and decided unanimously that it was a non-issue. Here's what Ward had to say:
Apparently this is going on all across the country... All four of the commissioners had a meeting today. One of the issues they discussed was this inquiry and they all agreed that it's not a violation. What the law prohibits is from me showing you my ballot. It was meant to prevent my boss from walking in watching me while I fill out my ballot at the polling site. Their conclusion unanimously was that -- first of all it's an old section of the law -- but secondly, no one is being shown the ballot, they're being shown a copy of the ballot.
What they're basically telling us is, 'We're dealing with floods and hurricanes. Don't bother us with Twitter.' But they said unanimously that they determined that it was not a violation of the criminal part of the election law.
"You're free to send it out. If you think it's wise, that's ok," he continued. "You're free to send it out. No one's gonna get their undies in a knot over that."