Whose ballot did Justine Wadsack post online? Pima County says it couldn’t have been hers.
A Republican state senator posted a photo on social media of what she claimed was her ballot but which election officials say couldn’t possibly be hers, raising questions that she committed a crime by publishing another person’s ballot.
On Monday, Republican state Sen. Justine Wadsack made a post on X, formerly Twitter, telling voters that they had until Tuesday to mail out their ballot.
“Here’s my ballot to use as a guide when filling it out,” Wadsack, a Tucson Republican, wrote along with a photo of a completed ballot. That ballot showed Tucson city council and mayoral races, as well as a ballot measure to amend the city’s charter. But it also included a question about a bond proposal for Tucson Unified School District — an election that Wadsack can’t legally vote in because she’s registered to vote in a different school district.
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The Pima County Recorder’s Office confirmed that Wadsack is registered to vote in the Vail Unified School District, and on Wednesday said that the ballot mailed to her would unequivocally not include a ballot question for TUSD.
“We can confirm that Sen. Wadsack was sent the correct ballot that corresponds with the address on her Voter Registration record,” the Pima County Recorder’s Office said in an email to the Mirror. “The address for which she is registered should only contain the City of Tucson races and Proposition 413 (to amend the Tucson city charter). A voter who lives at that address would not have received a ballot with a Tucson Unified School District proposition.”
When questioned on X about the ballot she claimed as her own containing a TUSD bond question, Wadsack repeatedly insisted that the ballot was hers.
“That is my ballot. Full stop!” Wadsack said in response to questions raised by Dylan Smith, the editor and publisher of the Tucson Sentinel. She went on to accuse Smith of “badgering” her and said he should instead ask questions to the “Democrat elections department” in Pima County.
The Mirror reached out to Wadsack multiple times by email asking her who the ballot in question belonged to but did not receive a reply. The Mirror also asked if she was aware of a state law that prohibits the posting of ballot images that do not belong to the voter.
“If it is her own ballot and she puts it on the internet, as stupid as it is, it’s not a violation,” attorney Tom Ryan said to the Mirror. “If I take someone else’s and do that, then it is illegal.”
State law says that showing another person’s completed ballot “in such a manner as to reveal the contents, except to an authorized person lawfully assisting the voter,” is a class 2 misdemeanor. Class 2 misdemeanors can carry a penalty of up to four months in jail and $750 in fines.
Ryan said he is unaware of anyone ever being prosecuted for sharing a photo of another person’s ballot.
Posting an image of your own early ballot, commonly referred to as a “ballot selfie,” was legalized in 2015. It is still illegal for a voter to take a photo of their completed ballot at a polling site on Election Day.
Despite Wadsack’s insistence that the ballot she posted online was hers, the Pima County Recorder’s Office confirmed for the Mirror that the ballot she received did not contain the TUSD bond question.
It is unclear who’s ballot she shared, though it could be a family member’s. Wadsack moved out of her family’s home in 2022, which is in TUSD, and into another residence in the Vail school district, where she remains registered to vote. She remains married.
The Pima County Attorney’s Office told the Mirror that its Civil Division has been sent information about Wadsack’s social media post, but could not immediately answer questions on what action it might take.
“I think if you post somebody’s else’s (ballot), that (law) should have some teeth,” Ryan said about the law, adding that a class 2 misdemeanor, in his opinion, is not a very hefty punishment.
Wadsack also claimed that, because she lives in Tucson and pays city taxes, she was allowed to vote on TUSD issues.
The school district, as Smith noted in response, is not supported by city taxes. Instead, all school districts in Arizona are funded by a combination of local property taxes and money provided by the Arizona legislature. Wadsack voted for a state budget this year that funded Arizona schools.