Here's How To Take Voting Selfies Without Getting Arrested

by John Haltiwanger

Selfies have become very common in our lives. So, it might seem natural to snap one while voting.

But Justin Timberlake recently learned that going full "but first, let me take a selfie" might not be the smartest or safest way to commemorate doing one's civic duty.

Last week, Timberlake voted in Tennessee, and snapped a photo in order to encourage others to do the same. In the process, it seems he might've broken the law.

Instagram/ Justin Timberlake

The singer slash actor slash all-around entertainer was definitely coming from the right place in trying to get people excited about voting... especially since voter turnout is often very low in the US.

But state law in Tennessee prohibits voters from recording videos or taking photos. Consequently, Timberlake could've faced a 30-day jail sentence, a fine of up to $50 or both.

Timberlake didn't know about the potential consequences, and luckily, the local DA decided not to investigate.

But not all of us are megastars trying to encourage youth voter participation. So, we might not want to take the same risk.

With that being said, thank you, Justin Timberlake, for using your star power to promote voting in a country where a lot of people don't participate in the process.

Moreover, thank you for giving your wife an awesome excuse to troll you.

Jessica Biel FTW.


Tennessee is not alone in having laws against taking photos or recording video in polling places.

There are 18 states where the practice is illegal, and 19 states where it's legal. It's also legal in the District of Columbia, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

But the rules differ from state to state, and can therefore get a little complicated.

In Iowa, for example, law prohibits the use of cameras, cell phones or other electronic devices in voting booths. Basically, this means sorry, no selfies.

But it IS legal to take a photo – perhaps even a selfie, if you're feeling particularly feisty – with an absentee ballot.

Given that all of this is a bit confusing, Time did us all the courtesy of creating graphics in order to clear up where ballot selfies are clearly illegal or legal, while also highlighting the states where the laws are unclear.

From Alaska to Florida, many states are not cool with people taking ballot selfies.


But other states, such as Hawaii and Virginia, have no laws that prohibit you from posting your ballot selfie on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or even Tinder. (Voting is sexy.) Basically, do whatever floats your boat.

Whether these laws are fair or not is certainly up for discussion. Mainly, the laws are about trying to prevent voter fraud... specifically vote buying.

In spite of certain claims that have been made during this election, mass voter fraud is not a big problem in the US.

But, as Mother Jones highlights, the reason photographs are banned from polling places is because of vote buying.

Think about it: If someone paid you to vote a certain way, the only way you could really prove you did it is if you snapped a quick picture. So, in some ways, this law arguably makes sense.

Regardless of how you feel about the laws surrounding ballot selfies, you should still vote. There's a lot at stake in this election, so please make sure your voice is heard.

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