I did a random search for #vote photos on Instagram and found more than 559,000 photos with the hashtag. Good job, Americans, you’re fulfilling your civic duty. But for the sake of everyone, if you’ve snapped a photo inside the voting booth or of your prepared ballot, you should know that you could be breaking the law.
The Citizen Media Law Project says that if you’re voting in the states of Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia, photographing or videotaping inside polling stations are strictly prohibited. That also applies to cell phone cameras.
In other states, many officials and poll workers will probably forbid you from photographing inside a polling station, but no laws are in the books. Even displaying your ballot in public could land you in jail and/or a fine. According to ProPublica, the penalty for displaying your ballot publicly in Colorado is a fine of not more than $1000 and/or up to a year in county jail. You can see the full list of do’s and don’ts for each state through the Citizen Media Law Project.
It’s fine if you’re posting Facebook updates, tweeting or texting, but you should put your phone away when you’re inside the voting booth. Remember to Instagram responsibly and watch the election results on YouTube tonight at 7 p.m./4 p.m. PT.