Selfies In The Voting Booth? Not So Fast.

Image courtesy of shana berenzweig

When exercising your right to vote for the next President of the United States it might be tempting to document the once-every-four-years event with a selfie. But before you hit the camera button, you should know your state laws, because in some areas of the U.S. the now-popular voting booth selfie is illegal. 

The laws governing voting booth selfies vary from state to state: California recently sent a bill to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk legalizing the election day photos, while states like New Hampshire have banned the pictures, Ars Technica reports.

The rise of selfies, and social media in general, has put the age-old idea of ballot secrecy into question, with companies like Snapchat creating specific voter-centric frames so consumers can share their experience with the rest of the world — or at least their “friends.”

The fight between preserving the secret nature of voting and finding ways to embrace younger voters’ social behaviors has created a showdown of sorts for social networks and states.

In New Hampshire, Snapchat has filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on voting booth selfies.

The company contended that “ballot selfies and similar digital information-sharing are important ways that younger voters participate in the political process and make their voices heard.”

For its part, the state claims in a filing that the law — which was created to reduce voter buying and coercion — was made to “preserve the integrity of New Hampshire elections.”

“The statute secures voter’s right to vote their conscience while in the voting booth,” the state wrote, noting that the 2014 law doesn’t explicitly prohibit voters from expressing who they voted for by any other means.

In the end, the court sided with Snapchat, but the state has appealed the decision, and arguments are scheduled for mid-September.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is California, where a recent bill amends a law that prohibited voters from showing ballots to anyone in a way that reveals who they voted for.

The amendment, which was sent to the governor’s desk Friday, allows voters to “voluntarily disclose he or she voted if that voluntary act does not violate any other law.”

While the future of New Hampshire’s voter booth photo law is in question, The Digital Media Law Project has a guide detailing where Election Day selfies are allowed.

Selfies in voting booths: Depending on where you live, they may be illegal [Ars Technica]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.