We are currently living through the ‘selfie generation,’ and come Election Day many people will want to take selfies at the voting booth. It could be because you are simply selfie crazed or you might fish out your smartphone to look up information about the candidates to make a better-informed decision. This might end up getting you arrested if you are not careful on Election Day. Here is a guide on how to avoid getting arrested when using your cell phone on Election Day.
Follow Rules and Regulations
While most states have not updated election laws when it comes to smartphone use within polling places. While there may not be a law expressly stating that you should not take a photograph of your polling paper or a selfie at a polling place, always follow rules and regulations set by your state’s Board of Elections.
For instance, you might find a sign stating that cell phone use is not allowed or a poll worker might approach you and tell you that you shouldn’t use your smartphone in the booth. You might not get penalized for using your phone anyway, but it is important to respect these rules to avoid further frustration.
The thought behind why taking ballot photos are frowned upon is that it does come with a number of underlying implications. For instance, it could be a means of ballot brokers/employers coercing people to vote a certain way. The photo might be seen as ‘photographic evidence’ showing that an individual voted as they were told to vote.
It doesn’t end at taking photos or videos, calling or texting at the voting booth is prohibited in most polling places. This is often considered as obtaining unlawful assistance.
The state of New Hampshire prohibits taking of ballot photos and sharing them. Anyone who is found in breach faces a $1,000 fine. You might ask isn’t this infringing on your freedom of speech as The American Civil Liberties Union cited when challenging the law. The law might not say that you shouldn’t take a photo of your ballot, but it does state that it is a felony to show another person your ballot intentionally. However, there hasn’t been a case of anyone being prosecuted for sharing his or her marked ballot on social media.
How to Get Away with a Voting Selfie
Let’s face it; people will still continue taking selfies and photos of their completed ballots. If you simply must take that selfie or ballot photo learn how not to get in trouble for it.
- You can decide to take a photo of your completed ballot. However, don’t post it on social media. You might simply want the photo as a memento or it could make a good ‘throw back picture,’ but don’t post it on social media when polls haven’t closed yet.
- By all means do take that selfie you want to take within the voting booth. However, if any poll official approaches you and tells you that you shouldn’t use your phone – keep your phone away.