If you vote but don’t post a photo on Instagram, does it count? While it’s a lovely showing of civic pride, selfies with your ballot could get you in trouble — even if you are Justin Timberlake. So, before you pull the lever on Election Day, know the states that will and won’t allow selfies.
Not down with your selfie desires
Put away your phones, because these states don’t allow photographs in polling places or voting booths — or both. Granted the laws aren’t often enforced. (It’s more of a “someone gently asks you to stop” kind of thing.) But that doesn’t mean you should test the rules.
Alabama: No photos at polling places. That being said, no one’s been prosecuted and any violators will simply be asked to stop.
Arizona: You can’t take photos inside or within 75 feet of a polling place. You CAN take a photo of a ballot that was mailed to you.
California: Ballot selfies WILL be legal in California …in January 2017. As of now, they’re against the law … that isn’t really enforced.
Colorado: There are two pending cases that may overturn the law, but for now it’s illegal to take pics AND to share or show your completed ballot to another person.
Florida: No go in voting places. Yes to pics of mail-in ballots.
Georgia: Can’t take pics at a polling place, or of any ballots or voting equipment. The Secretary of State’s office says it “strongly discourage[s] ballot selfies.”
Illinois: It’s a felony to take pictures that show how you voted, and it’s also illegal to take pictures inside polling places. If you do get popped for a violation, the state Election Board says the case would be decided on the county level.
Iowa: No photos are allowed in the voting booths, but the law’s unclear on whether that also means polling places.
Maryland: Maryland goes a level beyond, and actually bans the use of any electronic communication devices. That, obviously, means you can’t take pics of ballots either.
Michigan: There’s a legal back-and-forth going on, but for now, no cameras in polling places.
Nevada: Can’t take pictures in polling places, because it’s considered photographing “the conduct of voting.”
North Carolina: The only way you can take pictures is if you have the permission of the voter (you) — and the permission of the chief judge of the precinct (not you). So, it’s probably a pass.
Tennessee: Tennessee’s laws are kinda unclear, because they state “no phones” but also have a mobile app to help with voting. However, the law also says you can’t take pictures or talk on the phone. Take a lesson from Justin Timberlake: It’s not worth the hassle.
Texas: No photos inside the booths or within 100 feet of the polling place. If you do get caught, you won’t be arrested, per se, but you will be asked to stop. And why would you want to inconvenience people with all of that?
West Virginia: Here’s the law: “No person may enter a voting booth with any recording or electronic device in order to record or interfere with the voting process.” So, basically, no selfies. However, once you’re outside the precinct, snap away.
Exercise selfie restraint
Lots of state laws don’t specifically cover voting booth pictures, but are pretty clear on marked ballots. There’s plenty of reasons why this is totally understandable, but the most important one has to do with vote buying. There’s no way anyone can know who you voted for unless you provide them with photo evidence.
Alaska: There’s a statute in the books prohibiting selfies with your ballot, but no one’s been prosecuted. The state says it’s considered creating a PSA reminding voters of ballot secrecy.
Massachusetts: No selfies with your ballot, people. But here again, there’s little the state can do to enforce the law, says Brian McNiff, spokesman for the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Minnesota: Two statues say showing others your marked ballot is a no-no. And that’s what taking a pic or a video does.
Mississippi: Just don’t in Mississippi. In 2008 & 2012, some teens who were voting for the 1st time broke the law. The Attorney General fined them $25. Your fine could be higher — up to $100, says Holly Robertson of the State Board of Elections.
Missouri: The law here, like the others in this list, deals with showing your ballot. So, Stephanie Fleming of the Secretary of State’s Office says, check with your polling place just to be sure before you start snapping.
New Jersey: There are moves to change the law, but for now you can’t show your completed ballot to others, which means no pictures of it.
New Mexico: The law says no showing your completed ballot to anyone. Ken Ortiz of the Secretary of State’s Office says the law’s hard to enforce and nobody’s been prosecuted under it.
New York: Don’t take a picture of your ballot. Simple.
South Carolina: Selfies of your ballot = Against the law. But Chris Whitmire with the state Election Office didn’t know if anyone’s ever been prosecuted for it.
South Dakota: Don’t take a picture of your ballot. Mark it, fold it, refold it and cast your vote.
Wisconsin: The state would rather you not take a pic with your marked ballot. Reid Magney of the Election Commission says he’s not aware of any prosecutions, but why open yourself up to a complaint?
Selfie expression is fine
Here’s the bottom line: Voting is a serious affair, and states would like to protect the sanctity of this American right. If you still simply must selfie, go ahead. Just consider the inimitable words of Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park: You may be so preoccupied with whether or not you could, you may not stop to think if you should.
Arkansas: The only law here is that you are allowed to cast your vote in private, says Daniel Schultz with the Board of Elections.
Connecticut: Snap away.
Delaware: There’s no specific law against any of this, but officials do encourage people not to use their cellphones in polling places.
Hawaii: Okay, so, you can take a selfie in the voting booth, and you can share photos of your marked ballot. However, according to Nedielyn Bueno of the Office of Elections, you can’t take selfies OUTSIDE the voting booth because polling places don’t allow the use of electronic devices.
Idaho: There are now laws against it, but photography is discouraged.
Indiana: The state enacted a law that banned ballot selfies. But a federal judge barred it from going into effect. So, you’re good to go … for now.
Kansas: Election Director Brian Caskey with the Board of Elections says there’s a law about ballot disclosure, but ballot selfies don’t fall under it.
Kentucky: Good to go.
Louisiana: Selfies are allowed because your vote is private until YOU make it public!
Maine: Snap away.
Montana: Snap away.
Nebraska: Snap away.
New Hampshire: A federal appeals court ruled a statewide ballot selfie ban unconstitutional. So you’re good to go.
North Dakota: No issues here.
Ohio: “The Secretary does not believe posting a photo of your vote on social media is a problem,” says Joshua Eck, the spokesman for the Secrety of State’s Office.
Oklahoma: They advise voters not to take selfies, but there is no current penalty, and no history of prosecution.
Oregon: There are no laws prohibiting pictures of your ballot.
Pennsylvania: The state has sent guidance to polling places that it is within people’s 1st Amendment rights to take selfies.
Rhode Island: Once you’re in the booth, you can take pictures. No can do outside the booth.
Utah: Go for it.
Vermont: No laws regarding selfies or photos at all.
Virginia: Take a pic and make it good.
Washington: It’s not recommended, but you’re fine.
Wyoming: Nothing says you can’t, but don’t be disruptive.