As much as we all love using Snapchat, could taking it into the voting booth be a step too far? On April 22, the social media darling filed a legal document called an amicus brief arguing against New Hampshire’s ban on ballot photos, according to The New York Times.
Snapchat’s main argument is that “ballot selfies” are an essential part of many Snapchat users’ experiences, and deserve to be captured along with other significant moments on the app. The amicus brief states, “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.” Snapchat also argues that “ballot selfies” are a must-have for younger voters who have had historically lower turnout rates.
Snapchat is actually only one voice in the clamor over photos in the ballot booths; in 2014, New Hampshire passed a law that made sharing photos of marked ballots a crime punishable with fines of up to $1,000, according to the Times. But last year, a court in New Hampshire overturned the law, declaring that taking photos of the voting experience was a protected form of speech and political expression under the First Amendment. The case is still in appeals.
Of course, the rules pertaining to “ballot selfies” vary from state to state. In California, photo-taking in the voting booth is absolutely not allowed, and in Pennsylvania, being caught with a selfie could put you in jail for up to a year, according to the Huffington Post. So be sure you know your state’s laws—Your selfies are not worth jail time.
Those who do not want photography in the voting booths say that allowing the practice makes it much, much easier to buy votes. If someone is trying to force people to vote a certain way, they could request photographic evidence that those people voted they way they said they would.
However, a counterargument could be made for transparency. Letting people photograph the ballot could help identify errors, and point out confusing wording or organization. This is one of the benefits of any social media outlet: widespread, instantaneous, communication.
What do you think, collegiettes? Is voting a moment worth snapchatting, or are the risks not worth it?