Want to share your vote with the world? Don't do it by photo unless you are sure of the laws in your state.
There is something momentous about voting. Whether it's your first time to the polls, or there's a ballot measure you care about deeply, or you just feel proud to have a chance to exercise this right, standing in that voting booth can feel very significant. And, as we tend to do these days with such moments, you may find yourself wanting to document it, to pull your phone out of your pocket and snap a picture of your marked-up ballot.
Of course the next step is to take that picture and shout it to the world. "I voted for gay marriage!" or "I voted for Barack Obama!" or, simply, "I voted!" And the way this is accomplished, as we all know, is to tweet it, Facebook it, or Instagram it for all to see.
But before you do that, you should know that doing so -- whether merely using your phone in a polling place or broadcasting your posting your ballot photos -- is illegal in much of the country. As Jeff Hermes of the Citizen Media Law Project explains, "Many states have statutes that prohibit the display of one's own marked ballot to others. A small number of these states only prohibit disclosure of one's ballot in the voting room or prior to submission of the ballot, but most impose a flat prohibition on disclosure backed up by criminal penalties or cancellation of the vote in question. These statutes by their explicit terms appear to ban sharing of a photograph of one's ballot even after the election is over." Most of these laws date to a pre-cell-phone era, and quite probably their drafters never foresaw our quotidian photo sharing of today.