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Can You Take A Ballot Selfie In L.A.?
Don't photograph your marked ballot, even while hiding inside of one of these things. (Getty)
First, let us clarify what "ballot selfie" means. A ballot selfie is when you take a photograph of your marked ballot. Maybe you put it next to your face, or hold it high in the air, or Snapchat-tweet-gram yourself filling it out. No matter what creative way you document it, and no matter what social media platform you choose to transmit your experience from, it's not legal. Not YET.
Taking ballot selfies has always been a bit of a gray area—where it's banned it's not really enforced, and the law differs in every state. There's also no specific law mentioning social media platforms. The law as it stands is folded into a 100 year old statute that banned photos of ballots. According to Fortune, this was "a way to prevent coercion, intimidation and vote buying."
In recent years, however, there has been a push to lift the ban. Just last month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law making ballot selfies legal. This exemption was added to the previous language: "A voter may voluntarily disclose how he or she voted if that voluntary act does not violate any other law." The problem is, that change won't go into effect until January 2017, so you still cannot take a ballot selfie in this year's Presidential election.
While the ACLU tried to fight for voters rights to freedom of speech last week (noting that the new exemption news would confuse voters), they were denied. Judge William Alsup said the ACLU was trying to run a "2-minute drill" that would result in last-minute retraining of polling place volunteers. He also joked about some people taking too many selfies until they got the perfect one—"How many times can they keep trying? What if they don't like the smile on their face? They have to get the face, the smile, the ballot all just right.
So it remains, and with all this ballot selfie talk in recent weeks, there's likely to be some confusion in the booths on Tuesday. Californians, do not be confused by this: even if you remember seeing a headline somewhere about the ACLU lawsuit, or you recall your buddy telling you Gov. Brown lifted the ban, it did not happen yet.
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