Election 2017

Pennsylvania: Don’t post ballot selfies until after you leave your polling place

The Department of State issued guidances on ballot selfies.

vote here
Photo by Timothy Rezendes via Creative Commons

If you’re going to take a selfie in the voting booth on Nov. 8, at least wait until you leave the polling place to put it on your Snap story.

That’s the guidance coming down from the Pennsylvania Department of State, which released information on rules in effect at polling places come the general election. Among that information was a section on electronic devices at the polling place. Here’s what the Dept. of State has to say:

  1. The Election Code doesn’t address electronic devices in polling places, so the state recommends counties enact “common sense” rules to address it so that voting is unimpeded.
  2. Counties can allow other people such as poll watchers who are lawfully in the polling place to use portable electronic devices, but should consider limiting the location of use to outside the area where voting occurs.
  3. Recent court cases have found a First Amendment right to take “ballot selfies,” i.e. a picture of yourself voting. The state recommends voters who want to do so do two things:
    • Make sure you’re only getting your ballot in the photo and not anyone else’s. This is more of a problem in counties without voting booth curtains.
    • The Department recommends voters wait until after they leave the polling place to post a ballot selfie on social media.

In addition to those guidances, Pa. state law prohibits voters from revealing their “ballot or the face of the voting machine voted by him to be seen by any person with the apparent intention of letting it be known how he is about to vote.” That means don’t tweet your voting booth before you cast your vote. And please, don’t live stream the process.

But you can take a selfie with your ballot, and you can share it with whomever you wish after you leave your polling place.

The issue of “ballot selfies” has actually become somewhat contentious. At the end of September, a federal appeals court ruled that a statewide ban on ballot selfies in New Hampshire was unconstitutional. Proponents of the ban said it was put in place so that images of ballots wouldn’t be used to buy votes or cause voter intimidation, according to CNN.

“Digital photography, the Internet, and social media are not unknown quantities — they have been ubiquitous for several election cycles, without being shown to have the effect of furthering vote buying or voter intimidation,” the judges wrote in their decision. One judge wrote the ban was an overreaction, saying it was like “burning down the house to roast the pig.”

The lawsuit, which was first brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, was supported by Snapchat, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and other groups arguing for First Amendment protection.

And on Election Day after your take your ballot selfie, wear your “I Voted” sticker to our free Election Night event:

“I Voted!” Election Night Party with Billy Penn

Celebrate completing your civic duty as we watch the results come in to determine the next president of the United States. We'll be drinking QC Malt and eating a three-course meal from Samwich by Suppa (seriously, check the menu below) and playing a very special edition of Candyland (you have to see it to believe it).

Where: Pipeline Philly at 30 S. 15th St.

When: November 8, 2016 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

How much: Free

Want some more? Explore other Election 2017 stories.

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Policy, Politics