Are 'voter selfies' illegal?

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
Yahoo News

Like they do with their breakfasts and children, thousands of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users flocked to social media Tuesday to post "voter selfies."

But unlike taking pet photos, photographing yourself while inside the voting booth or filling out your ballot on Election Day might be illegal.

The laws vary by state. In New York, for example, anyone who "keeps any memorandum of anything occurring within the booth; or directly or indirectly, reveals to another the name of any candidate voted for by such voter; or shows his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents" is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, Texas and West Virginia expressly prohibit the use of photographic and recording equipment inside polling places.

In Wisconsin, posting photos of completed ballots on Facebook or Twitter constitutes election fraud and is a Class I felony. But in other states, such as Wyoming, there are no laws against documenting your ballot.

New Jersey law doesn't expressly prohibit photography inside polling places, though if you consider uploading a photo of yourself at the ballot box "electioneering," a crime at Garden State voting sites, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono would be guilty of a third-degree felony.



"Virtually all of these laws are older laws that predate the current technology," Jeffrey Hermes, director of the Citizen Media Law Project, told ProPublica last year. "[But] it is easy to imagine situations in which the thoughtless posting of a marked ballot on Facebook could result in negative consequences."

That isn't stopping users from displaying their "voter selfies" — like a digital version of those "I Voted Today!" stickers — all over Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

WNYC, New York's public radio station, is even encouraging listeners to submit voter selfies — just "don't take a picture of your actual ballot!"


Click here for a state-by-state list of rules in handy chart form.

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