Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Instagramming your vote could lead to jail in some states

Earlier on Tuesday, we noted a YouTube video showing an electronic voting machine that would not let its user vote for Barack Obama. Since then, we've noticed a number of people posting to their ballots on Facebook.

While it's nice to see eagerness around the election, the question has arisen: is this type of posting legal?

Surprisingly, the answer is - it depends. In a number of states, the act of posting your vote to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram constitutes a misdemeanor.
While the "crime" may seem silly, one could imagine some valid reasons, such as influencing the votes of others.

According to the Citizen Media Law Project a large number of states have laws banning photography or video recording in polling places. The site says:
This refers to the practice of photographing or filming one's own vote at the time of voting and afterwards displaying the image on a publicly accessible platform like the Internet. Streaming live video of your own marked ballot may create legal problems in additional states. "?" means the law is unclear. Keep in mind that states have these laws to prevent vote buying and coercion, so you should be cautious of publicly posting your ballot.
This could, of course, cause problems for anyone attempting to record an electronic voting machine malfunction, which is what was done earlier on Tuesday.

In that case, a Pennsylvania voter could not vote for Barack Obama; the machine kept selecting Mitt Romney. Finally, he managed to find a "spot" where he could select Obama.

Actor George Takei posted the video to his Facebook page, along with some advice - which may in fact be illegal in certain states, as we now know:
If you experience an anomaly (such as this) please call a voter hotline such as 1-855-444-6100. Bring your camera phone and document the problem.

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