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Social Media and Voting: Update on 'Ballot Selfie' Laws

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Ah, the selfie. That staple of social media. Who needs a silly little "I Voted" sticker when you can share your voting status worldwide with a few taps on your smartphone? The ballot selfie has become the most popular way to prove you participated in the political process, but some states aren't too keen on the idea.

Quite a few states have banned ballot selfies, and a few state courts have overturned bans. So where does the law stand now? Here's a look.

In and Out

Whether you can snap a selfie at your polling place can depend on where you live. Some states explicitly bar ballot selfies, some states allow them, and quite a few states have yet to clarify matters, legally. The AP published a comprehensive list of state ballot selfie laws, and here's a quick summary:

  • Legal: Connecticut, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
  • Not Legal: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Some of these bans are prohibitions on taking photographs of ballots specifically; others are laws against taking any pictures at polling places. And keep in mind that even in states where ballot selfies are legal, there may be limits on where you can snap your selfie and what can be included.

Up in the Air

There are still 13 states that have yet to decide the issue of ballot selfies definitively. Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia either don't address ballot selfies explicitly, have proposals pending, or have laws on the books that state officials have said may not prohibit ballot selfies.

So before you start snapping photos of you and your ballot and post them to social media, you may want to consult with a local civil rights attorney to confirm the ballot selfie laws in your jurisdiction.

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