You know how people like to go vote, then walk around for the rest of the day/week/forever with an “I Voted” sticker on their lapel? Millions of people like to Snapchat their lives online, and they'd like to snapchat “I Voted” with voting booth selfies. Just one problem. Taking pictures of your ballot is illegal in many states.
Why ban voting booth selfies? There are concerns the practice could compromise elections.
Sharing an image of your ballot is illegal in Pennsylvania. In New Hampshire, a ban was overturned, and a legal battle is under way.
Snapchat recently filed a brief in New Hampshire arguing that this is bullshit, and people should be allowed to snap their vote.
Are you allowed to selfie your vote? Huffington Post and Digital Media Law Project have compiled state-by-state lists, but they may or may not be accurate when you head to the polls. The laws vary widely. You're basically cool in South Carolina, but the law in Pennsylvania and Vermont says you could be fined up to $1,000.
I asked Snapchat why this matters. Their reply to Boing Boing: "Whether it's a campaign button or a selfie from the ballot box, Snapchat believes that expressing participation in the democratic process is an important part of free speech and civic engagement that the First Amendment roundly protects."
An interesting aside: one of the authors of the Snapchat brief is Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General of the United States. The 26-page brief is well worth reading, if you care about how technology and politics collide in America.
From the New York Times:
Last year, a federal court in New Hampshire overturned a ban on such photos, a decision still being appealed.
Snapchat, the social network of choice for many younger voters, joined the fray on Friday, filing an amicus brief in New Hampshire arguing against the ban. It called ballot selfies “the latest way that voters, especially young voters, engage with the political process.”
Both supporters and detractors of the restrictions agree that there are significant freedoms at stake. They just disagree on which freedoms to focus on.
From The Verge:
Snapchatting during voting generates a lot of traffic and user content for the social networking app. During this year's US presidential primaries, many people submitted to Live Stories — a series of raw videos and pictures of an event or occasion submitted by Snapchat users and correspondents, strung together under one Story by Snapchat editors for everyone to see. Snapchat's news team has "published some of these Snaps as relevant and important parts of the organization's political news coverage," the Venice-based company said in its 26-page brief. It went on to suggest that a ban was unconstitutional and violated the First Amendment, especially since reporters were allowed to take photos in polling places but other citizens weren't.