Saturday 23/06/2018 - 03:30 am


Justin Timberlake"s voting selfie may have broken the law


2016.10.26 06:20

He had the best of intentions.

But when Justin Timberlake took a selfie inside a voting booth in Memphis, Tenn., encouraging young people to vote early, he actually may have broken a law.

Timberlake, who owns property in Nashville, was promoting early voting, and posted his Instagram photo with the following message: "Hey! You! Yeah, YOU! I just flew from LA to Memphis to #rockthevote !!! No excuses, my good people! There could be early voting in your town too. If not, November 8th! Choose to have a voice! If you dont, then we cant HEAR YOU! Get out and VOTE!"

Whats wrong with that? Well, taking photos inside voting booths is prohibited in the state, where a new law, which took effect in January, forbids Tennesseans “from using the device for telephone conversations, recording, or taking photographs or videos while inside the polling place." The crime is a misdemeanor, with a penalty that could include up to 30 days in jail and $50 fine.

Late Tuesday, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich corrected an earlier statement that said Timberlakes actions were under review. "No one in our office is currently investigating this matter nor will we be using our limited resources to do so," read a statement from Weirich emailed to The Commercial Appeal.

Tennessee officials continued to remind voters they should not take pictures in polling places.

State rules across the country vary; some states, like Maine, discourage the practice, while others penalize ballot selfies, including Illinois (where ballot selfies are a felony, carrying a prison sentence of one to three years) and Pennsylvania (where the snap can cost you a $1,000 fine or a years worth of jail time).

In Millennials corner is the American Civil Liberties Union. When Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey recently issued a reminder against posting shots of ballots, the ACLU of Colorado jumped in, demanding Morrissey retract his statement and describing it as a “misguided threat to prosecute voters for taking and sharing ‘ballot selfies.’” A Colorado state senator filed a federal lawsuit Monday to have the 1891 law against sharing ballots overturned.

Its not the first case of ballot-sharing laws, many of which originated more than 100 years ago, being challenged. Recent court cases in New Hampshire and Indiana have affirmed the right to take ballot selfies and share them, citing the First Amendment right of voters to express support for a candidate and to communicate that support to others.

Cue Snapchats entrance in the debate. Its no surprise the social media platform has also been pushing to legalize ballot selfies. "A ballot selfie — like a campaign button — is a way to express support for or against a cause or a candidate. And because it is tangible proof of how a voter has voted, a ballot selfie is a uniquely powerful form of political expression," said the company in an amicus brief filed in April in New Hampshire, protesting a ban on such photo-sharing.

So where is a voting selfie OK? With no federal law that forbids voters from posting a picture of a completed ballot online, its a state-by-state issue. Utah, Hawaii, North Dakota, Oregon and Rhode Island are among states that allow citizens to photograph their ballots.

ABC News broke down voting selfies in a state-by-state guide.

 

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