Is it legal to photograph and share a copy of your voting ballot online? The answer depends on a bunch of things, including what state you're in, whether you've completed the ballot, and whether you actually bring your mobile device into the voting booth. The law varies widely.
In Washington, DC, you can indeed legally "instagram the vote." Like this fellow did.
But elsewhere, doing what he did is against the law and may make it so that your vote cannot be counted.
The Citizen Media Law Project reports that in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia, there are laws banning photography or videography in polling places.
In North Carolina, the law is even more restrictive: the basic idea seems to be no smartphones in the voting booth
The idea is that photographing your ballot nullifies the whole secret ballot principle, but there's also an applicable North Carolina law that attempts to prevent people contacting other people for direction on how to vote. One could certainly do that with a smartphone in the booth.
“This being the 21st century and me having a notoriously short memory, I wrote my choices down on my smartphone,” one man told a local TV news reporter via email.
When he got into the voting booth, he took out his iPhone to consult his list. But before he even opened his notes, he says, a poll worker was at his side, insisting he would have to put the phone away before he would be allowed to complete his ballot.
“After attempting to recall from memory my choices for Council of State and judge positions to no success, I felt like I was being denied my right to vote because I was not allowed to use my smart phone,” said Bell.
Angry and frustrated, Bell says he told election officials he wanted to withdraw his ballot until he could memorize the candidates he wanted to support.
In Ohio, generally smartphones are allowed in the voting booth.
Snip from Dayton Daily News:
Ohio law allows voters to use tablets or smartphones in polling places, said Matt McClellan, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
“You could go in with your phone and use that if you have a slate card or a list of how you want to vote,” McClellan said.
Election officials in Montgomery, Greene, Warren, Clark and Butler counties said they will allow the use of smartphone and tablet slate cards in the voting booth, with some limitations. Voters will be asked to silence their cell phones, and will be prohibited from using them for telephone conversations or taking photographs at polling locations.
“You want an informed voter,” said Llyn McCoy, Greene County Board of Elections deputy director. “If this is how they are getting their information and they are taking it in so they vote the way they want to, I think it is a great thing.”
Gizmodo has an extensive list of laws by state. And ProPublica has more context.
For examples of people being really dumb and boasting about their vote by instagramming their ballot, I suggest you use instagram's "explore" feature and search for #vote #voted #voting or #ballot.
(Thanks, Aileen Graef!)
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