If you've been on Instagram or Twitter in the last week, you've probably noticed the influx of brands and retailers offering deals on their social media channels as reward for voting in tomorrow's midterm election.
These posts tend to go something like this: "Send a voting selfie — but not in the voting booth, as this is illegal — and DM it to us for a 40% discount on our [insert product name here]." This stipulation is important: While laws vary by state, taking a selfie with your ballot is a crime in most states, and it's essential that you check out your state's laws before whipping out your phone to cash in on these deals.
As for the legality of these retailers offering discounts for voters? It is technically against federal law to encourage people to vote with discounts, but it can get a little murky based on state.
According Jessica Levinson, Clinical Professor of Law at Loyola Law School: "California has a specific provision where you can't do anything to encourage somebody to register to vote or to vote in any election if a federal candidate appears on the ballot. And federal candidates appear throughout [this] ballot. But California is a little more lax on this than other states."
But this law isn't exactly dissuading companies from offering deals, nor does it seem to be rigorously enforced for consumers. That may be because the punishment is simply a fine. "This is largely what happens in election law period. Fines are just the cost of doing business," says Levinson says. And you can rest easy if you are taking these retailers up on their deals: "No one is going after you for redeeming your free latte," Levinson adds.
While it should be noted that constituents shouldn't need financial or material incentive to make it to the polls tomorrow, here are some of the deals being offered if you're in the "I'll take my free latte for doing my civic duty" camp this Election Day:
• Tarte Cosmetics is offering this tarteist lash paint mascara to 100 people who tag @tartecosmetics with a photo of their voting sticker on Instagram or Twitter.
• Rachel Antonoff is offering 15% off clothing if you DM the brand a photo of yourself at the polls or take a pic of your absentee ballot.
• If you walk into any Amoeba Music store tomorrow wearing your I Voted sticker or show the cashier your voting stub, you can get $3 off any purchase over $5.
• Here's a list of places offering food and drink freebies to voters tomorrow, like Shake Shack and Birch Coffee. Be sure to check on local deals in your area as well, as many regional restaurants and coffee shops are offering freebies, too.
• Also, if lack of access to transportation is keeping you from the polls, Uber and Lyft are offering free and discounted rides via promo codes. Additionally, Lime, Zipcar, and Citi Bike are offering discounts as well. And if you're in NYC, The Betches Sup is teaming up with New Balance to provide a party bus that will pick up millennial women from popular city locales and drop them off at key polling sites.