Is a ballot selfie legal in Florida? Here are things you can and can’t do at the polls

Michelle Marchante, Carli Teproff
·6 min read

Can you wear a MAGA hat or a Biden mask in the polling place? What about a campaign shirt for a local candidate?

And can you do what you do everywhere else: take a selfie?

During a time when polling places are looking different, with socially distant floor markings and hand sanitizer everywhere, here’s a reminder of what you can and can’t do as you cast your ballot in South Florida:

Can I take a ballot selfie at the voting booth? What about if I’m voting by mail?

Voters are allowed to take a picture of their own ballot under Florida law. That includes at the voting booth, or elsewhere if you requested a vote-by-mail ballot.

What about a ballot selfie?

Yes, that’s allowed too, according to Miami-Dade County’s Supervisor of Elections Office.

Ballot selfies are a way to show off your completed ballot in an election. You can also pose with the ballot before you fill it out. Whether you pose with a completed ballot or not, make sure you don’t get any other person or ballot in the photo. That’s a no-no.

If you are voting in person, the photo can be taken only at the voting booth, which means you can’t take the shot in front of the ballot counting machines. You also can’t take a photo of you and anyone else inside the polling room, even if it’s your mom, significant other or best friend.

Can you post the ballot selfie online? While the point of a selfie is usually to post it on social media, Florida’s law doesn’t specify if it’s legal to post a picture of your personal ballot online and Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Let’s be honest though. The classic (and totally legal) election photo everyone loves to share on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter involves the “I Voted” sticker.

Miami-Dede resident Zaida Perez shows her sticker after casting her vote on first day of early voting for the general election at Shenandoah Branch Library located at 2111 SW 19th St. on Monday, October 19, 2020, in Miami, Florida.
Miami-Dede resident Zaida Perez shows her sticker after casting her vote on first day of early voting for the general election at Shenandoah Branch Library located at 2111 SW 19th St. on Monday, October 19, 2020, in Miami, Florida.

With a larger-than-ever Vote By Mail turnout expected for the 2020 presidential election, you might also see more pictures of people posing near the vote-by-mail drop boxes.

Miami-Dede resident Zaida Perez shows her sticker after casting her vote on first day of early voting for the general election at Shenandoah Branch Library located at 2111 SW 19th St. on Monday, October 19, 2020, in Miami, Florida.
Miami-Dede resident Zaida Perez shows her sticker after casting her vote on first day of early voting for the general election at Shenandoah Branch Library located at 2111 SW 19th St. on Monday, October 19, 2020, in Miami, Florida.

If you’re a first time voter, take note: The “I Voted” sticker is given to you immediately after you cast your vote. Stickers should also be available at the vote-by-mail drop boxes that are staffed with poll workers.

Broward voters, if you’re voting in-person, you also get an extra souvenir: a free pen.

What you are not allowed to do: You cannot take pictures of another person’s ballot and you cannot take a picture with someone else inside the polling room, even if it is your mom. This is because you are not allowed to take pictures in the polling room or early voting area, with the exception of your own ballot.

So even if you see Pitbull voting a few booths away, don’t try to be discreet and snap a quick pic. It’s illegal under Florida law. While there is no specific penalty by law, it is up to the clerk at each polling place to maintain the order. So if people break the rules, they will be reprimanded, said Roberto Rodriguez, the spokesman for the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections office.

By statute, no one who is legally able to vote can be denied that right.

Rodriguez said “we have never had an issue.”

There are penalties for some violations including voter intimidation or tampering with a ballot.

Can you wear a Trump hat and a Biden mask when you go to vote?

Miami-Dade resident and President Donald J. Trump supporter Ramiro Collazo talks to el Nuevo Herald reporter Mario Penton on first day of early voting for the general election at Shenandoah Branch Library located at 2111 SW 19th St. on Monday, October 19, 2020, in Miami, Florida.
Miami-Dade resident and President Donald J. Trump supporter Ramiro Collazo talks to el Nuevo Herald reporter Mario Penton on first day of early voting for the general election at Shenandoah Branch Library located at 2111 SW 19th St. on Monday, October 19, 2020, in Miami, Florida.

Yes, you can wear a political mask and clothing. Voters can wear political attire, including shirts, hats and masks, inside the precinct if they are planning to cast a ballot, according to the Miami-Dade and Broward Supervisor of Elections offices. It doesn’t matter if the attire is endorsing President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden or a local candidate.

What you are not allowed to do inside the precinct: Campaigning, selling items or asking people to sign a petition. This means you can’t try to persuade others to vote for your favorite candidate, ask them to vote yes on a specific amendment or sell your handmade Trump and Biden election memorabilia. You also can’t distribute political or campaign material like fliers.

All of that is considered voter solicitation under Florida law and is required to stay outside of the polling place and from the 150-foot zone surrounding the polling place.

I have a sample ballot filled out on my phone. If I’m at a voting booth, can I look at it?

This is not a school test, so yes, you can have a crib sheet. Voters are allowed to bring a sample ballot or a list with them to the polls to help them remember how they planned to vote, whether it is printed out or on their phone. These types of guides are especially useful when there are multiple amendments and referendums on the ballot so you don’t get confused.

What you are not allowed to do: Again, you can’t try to secure votes for a specific candidate or amendment while at the polling place or while you’re at the voting booth. Voter solicitation is illegal inside the polling room and yes, that includes passing out your list of recommendations.

Can I call a friend or family member for help filling out my ballot?

Can you use your phone at the polls?
Can you use your phone at the polls?

The general rule is that talking on the phone —for any reason — is breaking the rules of decorum, according to both Miami-Dade and Broward election offices.

“It’s considered a distraction,” said Rodriguez, the spokesman for Miami-Dade’s election department.

If you do get a call, or try to make one, a poll worker will likely ask you to end the call.

I messed up my ballot or had an emergency in the middle of voting. Can I get a new ballot?

Yes, you can ask for a new ballot if you make a mistake (or bleed all over it from a paper cut). But there is a limit.

So if you realized you left your cheat sheet in the car in the middle of voting, there is a solution. You can turn in your half-done ballot and a poll worker will “spoil” it, which basically means it’s destroyed.

When you come back, you will get a new ballot and you can start over. Keep in mind that you will likely have to wait in line again.

In both Miami-Dade and Broward, there is a limit of three spoils per person.