Election booth selfies may soon be legal

Election booth selfies may soon be legal
Posted at 4:40 PM, Sep 28, 2016

While many Americans do it, taking a selfie while voting is considered a crime in most states. But a ruling handed down from a federal appeals court on Wednesday could pave the way toward legalizing election booth photography. 

Taking digital photography inside the voting both is only legal in eight states, according to the Huffington Post. Many states allow for photography inside the polling place, but not actually inside the voting booth. Other states ban photography at the polling place completely. 

A person could be charged with a felony in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin for taking photos at the ballot booth.

But with the advent of Snapchat, the social media company has taken the state of New Hampshire to federal court over the issue. 

The state argued that the law was necessary to to prevent ballot photography to be used as a means of voting fraud or intimidation. The plaintiffs argued that prohibiting ballot photography denied voters their free speech rights. 

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court ruled 3-0 that the state had not shown that it was using the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling state interest of prohibiting voting fraud. According to the ruling, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner was unable to show examples of how ballot photography led to voting fraud. 

"The restriction affects voters who are engaged in core political speech, an area highly protected by the First Amendment," the ruling states. "There is an increased use of social media and ballot selfies in particular in service of political speech by voters. A ban on ballot selfies would suppress a large swath of political speech."

The judges suggested a less restrictive law that would prohibit people from taking a photo of their completed ballot. 

While Wednesday's ruling only applies to New Hampshire, and the ruling could be appealed to the Supreme Court, the ruling could change a long-standing precedent of banning election booth photos.