Election fever has taken over the nation as we cast our votes in the 2012 presidential race! After a long campaign, many people are happy that it is finally coming to a close, while others are excited to show support for their candidate of choice.
Because many of us are consumed within an endless cycle of social media updates, shares and "Likes," it's only natural that our Election Day excitement would translate onto social media platforms. By now, most people's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram timelines have been bombarded with pics and status updates of their friends waiting on line to vote, actually voting and the pride they feel after casting their ballot.
But here's where things get tricky. In some states, election officials prohibit voters from taking pictures or video inside of a polling place. And in other states, there's restrictions on taking pictures of ballots, even if it's your own.
According to CitizenMediaLaw.org, the states that “expressly prohibit the use of photographic and recording equipment inside polling places” include Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada and Texas.
The consequences for breaking these laws can result in a felony charge, however your vote cannot be discounted. Here's what AllThingsD.com reported:
One voter in North Carolina, where it’s illegal to take photos of completed ballots, under Statute 163 – 166.3 (sections b and c), was stripped of his smartphone when he took it out to consult his list of chosen candidates.
The state of Wisconsin is taking an even harder line, with the Government Accountability Board telling voters that posting completed ballot pics to Facebook or Twitter constitutes election fraud under the state’s law — a Class I felony. (It’s also not the first time the Wisconsin WAB has warned of this.)
So be very careful before you decide to whip out your smartphone to snap pics inside of the voting booth or even on a voting site. Your best bet is to play it safe and be discreet if you bring a smartphone or camera with you on the premise. We also suggest that you go to CitizensMediaLaw.org to see what exactly your state prohibits on voting grounds.
Remember, even if your state does allow photography to take place within a polling place, all states restrict people from activities that interfere with other people's voting process. As a result, election officials have the power to determine what constitutes as an "interference" and can take that view around photography or film.
Voting laws vary from state-to-state, but here's a quick list for those of you who don't have time to research the voting laws within your state, but you want to play it safe:
1. Do not wear campaign apparel advocating for a certain candidate or party within 100 feet of a polling place. This includes buttons, T-shirts, hats, etc.
2. Do not take a picture of your ballot, before or after you fill it out.
3. And do not take photos of other people's ballots with or without their permission.
Stepping outside of these restrictions could potentially get you removed from a polling location. And no one wants to wait on line to vote for nothing!
Lastly, check out the do's and don'ts listed in this video below and be smart today at the polls!