Here’s what each US state says about taking ballot selfies
(CNN) — You may be tempted to post a photo on Instagram when you hit the voting booth on Tuesday, but selfies with your ballot could get you in trouble in some states.
So, before you pull a lever or tap a touchscreen on Election Day, know which states allow no selfies, some selfies and all selfies.
Don’t even think about it
Put your phones away, because these states don’t allow photographs in polling places or voting booths, or both. Granted, the laws aren’t often enforced. (It’s more of a “someone gently asks you to stop” kind of thing.) But that doesn’t mean you should test the rules.
Alabama: The state’s up-to-date voter information is clear: No photography in polling places (ergo, no selfies).
Arizona: You can’t take photos inside or within 75 feet of a polling place.
Florida: You can’t take photos in polling places and can’t show your completed ballots to others. If you didn’t know, you’re not alone. In July, three politicians got busted for taking photos of their primary ballots, not knowing they were violating the law. Whoops!
Georgia: No photography in polling places + no cell phone use in polling places = no selfies.
Illinois: One of the most anti-selfie states in the country. Photography is not allowed at the polling place and its law states, “any person who knowingly marks his ballot or casts his vote on a voting machine or voting device so that it can be observed by another person … shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.”
Iowa: No photos are allowed in the voting booths.
Maryland: Per Maryland’s voter information page, “You cannot use your cell phone, pager, camera, and computer equipment in an early voting center or at a polling place.” Remember guys, NO PAGERS.
Michigan: No cameras in polling places.
New Jersey: Don’t share your ballot online and don’t take pictures. New Jersey law prohibits voters from showing their ballot to anyone else and officials say photographs aren’t allowed inside polling places.
New York: Nope. Last year, a federal judge even upheld a state law barring voters from taking photos of their marked ballots.
North Carolina: The only way you can take pictures is if you have the permission of the voter (you) — and the permission of the chief judge of the precinct (not you). Considering the chief judge probably has better things to do, it’s a no.
Ohio: It’s illegal to show off your ballot online, so why bother? The state has prohibited that for years.
South Carolina: The word straight from the state’s Election Commission: “State law prohibits anyone from showing their ballot to another person. The use of cameras is not allowed inside the voting booth.”
South Dakota: No!
Tennessee: Justin Timberlake brought selfies back!!! Ok not really. The Tennessee Senate approved a bill to let residents use their phones at polling places, but it hasn’t become law yet. For now, John Gleason of the Senate Judiciary says you’re outta luck. “Thanks to a law passed in 2015, electronics are permitted in the polling place, but you can’t use them,” he tells CNN.
Texas: From Keith Ingram, director of elections: “Persons are not allowed to use wireless communications devices within 100 feet of the voting stations. Additionally, persons are not allowed to use mechanical or electronic devices to record sound or images within 100 feet of the voting stations.” Listen to Keith.
West Virginia: The law says you can’t “record or interfere with the voting process,” but here’s an interesting twist: There’s now an app that makes West Virginia the first state in the country to allow people to cast federal election ballots using a smartphone. Mind blown? Read about the perks and (major) caveats of the app here.
Exercise selfie restraint
Lots of state laws don’t specifically cover voting booth photos but are pretty clear on sharing marked ballots. There’s plenty of reasons why this is totally understandable, but the most important one has to do with vote buying. There’s no way anyone can know who you voted for unless you provide them with photo evidence.
Alaska: State law says “a voter may not exhibit the voter’s ballot to an election official or any other person so as to enable any person to ascertain how the voter marked the ballot.” That means no posting of marked ballot selfies.
Louisiana: State law says voters may not “allow a ballot to be seen” or “announce the manner in which a person has cast his ballot.” So selfies are allowed, but not with a marked ballot.
Massachusetts: No selfies with your ballot, people. But here again, there’s little the state can do to enforce the law, says Brian McNiff, spokesman for the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Minnesota: Two statutes say showing others your marked ballot is a no-no. And that’s what taking a pic or a video does.
Mississippi: There’s no law against taking photos at the polling place, but the state prohibits a voter from showing his or her marked ballot to another person, says Leah Smith of the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office. So no selfies of marked ballots.
Missouri: Photos are allowed but the law here, like the other states on this list, prohibits voters from sharing their marked ballot, says Maura Browning, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State.
Oklahoma: Officials advise against taking pictures of marked ballots, but you can snap photos inside a polling place. There have been efforts to allow ballot selfies, but so far, they’ve failed to get approval from the governor.
Utah: Go for it — but only if you haven’t marked your ballot yet.
Vermont: They don’t have a “no selfies or photos” policy in place, BUT they will fine you $1,000 if you show your ballot to another person with an apparent intention of revealing your vote.
Selfie expression is fine
Here’s the bottom line: Voting is a serious affair, and states would like to protect the sanctity of this American right. If you still simply must selfie, go ahead. Just consider the inimitable words of Ian Malcom from “Jurassic Park“: You may be so preoccupied with whether or not you could, you may not stop to think if you should.
Arkansas: There’s no law against taking selfies, says the Secretary of State’s Office, as long as you’re not being disruptive in the polling place or taking pictures of other people’s ballots.
California: Snap away, Californians! The state just amended its laws to specify that “a voter may voluntarily disclose how he or she voted if that voluntary act does not violate any other law.”
Colorado: You’re good. Governor John Hickenlooper signed a “ballot selfie bill” in 2017 that permits voting day documentation.
Connecticut: Snap away.
Delaware: There’s no specific law against any of this, but officials do encourage people not to use their cellphones in polling places.
District of Columbia: “Discouraged but not illegal,” says Rachel Coll, information officer for the District’s Board of Elections.
Hawaii: Ballot selfies, and the sharing of them, are explicitly allowed.
Idaho: Selfies in the booth are okay, and cell phone usage and photography in precincts are not outlawed either, says Timothy A. Hurst of the Secretary of State’s Office. But you could get in trouble if you’re invasively taking pictures of other voters or election officials. Which you won’t do. Right?
Indiana: The state enacted a law in 2015 that banned ballot selfies. But a federal judge barred it from going into effect. So, you’re good to go … for now.
Kansas: “It does not appear to be a crime under current law, but it’s also not encouraged,” a spokesman from the Office of Kansas’ Secretary of State tells CNN.
Kentucky: “We don’t have a prohibition on people taking selfies. However, there is a prohibition in recording other people voting,” says Bradford Queen of the Office of Kentucky’s Secretary of State.
Maine: Snap away.
Montana: Snap away.
Nebraska: Vote and promote! Nebraska has no problem with you posing next to the voting machines.
New Hampshire: A federal appeals court ruled a statewide ballot selfie ban unconstitutional. So you’re good to go.
New Mexico: Do it for the ‘gram! Voters can take pictures of themselves and their ballots at polling places, says a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office — just as long as they don’t disturb normal operations or violate the privacy of others.
North Dakota: No issues here.
Oregon: Oregon is a mail-in state, but there are no laws against snapping a pic of your ballot.
Pennsylvania: You can send your voting selfie to all your pals — unless your polling location has signs prohibiting cell phones. Officials also recommend leaving the polling place before you post any selfies on social media.
Rhode Island: You can take photos outside of the voting area, and you can take photos of your own ballot. But you can’t take photos of other people’s ballots or disrupt the process of voting with your little photo shoots.
Virginia: You can take pictures, even of your completed ballot. But if your picture-taking disrupts voting or intimidates other voters, you can be removed from the polling place.
Washington: Yes, and here’s why: “Because Washington is a vote-by-mail state, there are no traditional polling places,” Erich Ebel of the Office of Secretary of State tells CNN. “Since 2011, voters across Washington have been able to vote from the comfort of their own homes and simply drop their sealed ballot-return envelopes into their daily mail or take them to one of hundreds of conveniently-located drop boxes. It is not illegal in Washington to take a selfie while doing either of those things, and in fact could possibly even encourage more people to get their own ballots submitted before the deadline.” That’s right, shame your peers, Washingtonians!
Wisconsin: Michael Haas of the state election commission tells CNN that yes, you may take a selfie, but workers may ask you to stop if you are creating a distraction. They also really suggest you don’t post a selfie with your marked ballot. You won’t get in trouble, but it will raise questions as to whether someone paid you to do so (which is majorly illegal).
Wyoming: Nothing says you can’t, but don’t be disruptive. “In Wyoming there are no laws against ballot selfies.” The law does allow judges of elections to “preserve order at the polls by any necessary and suitable means,” says Will Dinneen from Wyoming’s Secretary of State’s Office.