2020 Election

Ballot Selfies: Where You Can and Can't Take a Photo While Voting

Be sure you know the law before snapping a photo this election, or you could end up in trouble.

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Four years ago, the pop star Justin Timberlake got in hot water with elections officials after taking a selfie in a voting booth.

Timberlake was in Tennessee, where it's illegal to do so. Lucky for him, all was forgiven, though his wife Jessica Biel said Timberlake could have been thrown in jail.

It's only logical that in the years since social media took over our lives, citizens have tried to use social media in the voting process as well.

But, be careful: depending on what state you're in, taking a ballot selfie could be a crime or otherwise discouraged. For a safer option, why not take a selfie with an "I voted" sticker?

The legality gets murkier inside the voting booth. If you're voting in person for this 2020 election, do you really want to chance it? Here's what we know about what's allowed.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said during a recent news conference that court rulings have protected one's right to take a ballot selfie.

"Although the framers of the Constitution I think were not carrying around their cell phones when they voted, recent court cases have found a First Amendment right to take photos of yourself while voting. So, remember to smile when you're casting your ballot," Boockvar said in an Oct. 23 news conference.

In one case, a federal district court in 2015 overruled a New Hampshire law that explicitly prohibited ballot selfies - the court said those are protected First Amendment speech.

(Side note: one of the voters in that case was so dissatisfied with the Republican Senate candidates on the ballot that he cast a write-in vote for his recently deceased dog, Akira. Then he posted the ballot on social media.)

Previous guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of State advised voters snapping a picture avoid getting other voters in their shot, and to not reveal other voters' selections. The department also suggested not posting the picture until after leaving the polling place.

New Jersey

Nope. Don't do it.

State laws aim to protect the privacy of voters and their ballots. A bill that would have allowed voters to take selfies in voting booths died before it was made law.

Under current law, you can't examine someone else's ballot or ask to see someone else's ballot. Legislators of the failed bill argued that someone showing their ballot in their selfie is doing so voluntarily.

Delaware

State officials have told numerous media outlets that there is no law on the books banning ballot selfies. However, cell phones are prohibited inside polling places, according to the state elections website.

"The noise interferes with poll workers and distracts voters," the website says.

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