Can You Take Your Phone Into The Voting Booth?

Photographed by Sage McAvoy.
If you vote and don't post a selfie on social media, did it even happen?
Unfortunately, snapping that selfie might be a misdemeanor in some states. The laws vary from state to state, but anything from taking photos in the voting booth, to snapping a picture with your ballot, to taking photos inside the polling station where you're voting might be off limits. Just like with voting, the best thing you can do is to be informed.
Your best course of action is to pay attention to any signs that are at the polling station. If they explicitly ask you to not take photos, you're better off just keeping your phone in your bag. When in doubt, ask someone.
Some states take photo-taking very seriously. Last month, the Secretary of State in Texas, Rolando Pablos, sent out an advisory saying that voters could be forced to leave if they use their phones within 100 feet of a polling station. The advisory also prohibited "electioneering," promoting a preference for a candidate, measure, or political party within 100 feet of the polling station. Pablos did mention one exception. If a voter has a disability where they can be aided through the use of their phone, they are allowed to use it while voting.
The following states do not allow the use of a phone in the polling station at all: Georgia (only in the voter booth), Iowa (only in the voter booth), Maryland, and South Dakota. That means you'll need to do any last-minute candidate research before you hit the polling place.
In Iowa taking a camera or cell phone inside the voter booth is considered a misdemeanor; however, photos of absentee ballots are allowed. The state law in South Dakota says that you are not allowed to "use any communication or photographic device in a manner which repeatedly distracts, interrupts, or intimidates any voter or election worker" within 100 feet of the polling station. This is also considered a misdemeanor.
The following states do not allow selfies in the voting booth, polling station, or pictures of your ballot: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
While some states don't have explicit laws against selfies, they do have laws against sharing your completed ballot with other people, and a selfie with your ballot is doing just that.
The following states allow selfies in the voting booth as long as your ballot isn't filled out: Alaska, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, and Vermont.
It's a pretty even split between states that restrict or prohibit voting selfies and those who allow it. Then there are the states that don't have formal polling stations, like Oregon and Washington, and rely exclusively on mail-in ballots. In these instances, you are more than welcome to share. It might even remind some of your other fellow Pacific Northwesterners to turn in their ballots before the deadline.
The following states do not have any laws against taking selfies in the voting booth or of your completed ballot: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
So, what happens if you decide to take a photo with your filled-out ballot or in the voting booth in a state where it's prohibited? Just like all these rules, it depends. Many states in this category will simply discourage you from sharing; however, there are some states like Vermont, that will issue fines up to $1,000 for sharing your ballot with the intention of revealing your vote. If you're caught snapping a selfie in Missouri, you could be fined up to $2,500. In the end, there is no law stating that sharing your ballot will negate your vote, and it is very unlikely you would ever find yourself in court for taking a picture while voting, reports The New York Times.
If you're in a state where it's allowed, and you feel like sharing, snap away. Just be mindful of strangers at your polling station who might not be as eager to be part of your Election Day social media blitz. If you happen to be in one of the states where it's a no-go, there is no state which prohibits you from taking a selfie with your "I Voted" sticker. That little baby will also help you score some amazing freebies and discounts!

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