“Are ballot selfies illegal?” and Your Other Burning Questions About Voting

| Melissa Morris Ivone

You’ve done your research, you’ve picked your candidates, you’ve decided on your ballot measures. You know, the important stuff. But did you pick out your outfit? Because, as it turns out, that’s something worth planning ahead of time. Make sure you’re prepared for everything November 3rd might throw your way as we answer the questions you might not have even thought to ask. 

 

Is it illegal for me to take a ballot selfie?

If it’s not on social media, it didn’t happen, right? So if you’re mailing in your vote or dropping it off at a secure ballot dropbox and you don’t get that coveted “I voted” sticker, how will people know that you’ve proudly completed your civic duty? You might be tempted to take a photo of yourself with your ballot, but hold up. Before you share that photo, check to make sure you’re in one of the 25 states (plus DC) where it’s allowed. 

Although the laws around ballot selfies are changing faster than a TikTok transition, some people are concerned that they can serve as proof of vote-buying or other fraud. Let’s say a candidate pays you ten bucks for your vote, the only way to prove you actually did it is by taking a photo of your ballot. But others argue that a ballot selfie is free speech and that the positive political expression for the youths is worth the risk.

 

What if I’m voting in person? Can I take a selfie there? 

Again, this one is going to depend on your state. In fact, some states, like Maryland, prohibit electronic devices at voting stations entirely. If you’re in Texas, you better not text your friend while you’re 99.9 feet from a voting station. In Arizona, you can take that selfie as long as you’re 75+ feet away from the door. So do your research or just leave your phone behind.  

 

Can I turn in someone else’s ballot?

Let’s say you mention to your sweet, elderly neighbor that you’re on your way to drop off your ballot and she asks if you can bring hers along too. Should you do it? There are 26 states that will allow a voter to designate someone else to return their ballot. And additionally, 10 states allow for a family member to do so. But be careful, there may be very specific rules around this depending on your state. For example, in New Jersey, you can’t be an authorized messenger for more than three voters. In South Dakota, if you want to be the authorized messenger for more than one voter, you have to notify the person in charge of the election. And if you’re in Kentucky, you’ll need to complete a voter assistance form before helping out your neighbor.

 

Are there rules on what I can wear to vote?

You’ve been supporting your candidate for months. You made the donations, you put up the lawn sign, you have the swag. It feels only right to wear that t-shirt you bought as you cast your vote for the name across your chest. But can you? 

Maybe, maybe not. Some states have rules against electioneering, which may mean no buttons, shirts, hats, face masks, or tote bags that support or oppose a candidate or cause. You might be safe with your campaign slogan socks or undergarments if you keep it on the down-low, but you didn’t hear it from me. Feeling like a rebel with a cause? Well in Texas, violating this provision is a Class C misdemeanor, so keep that in mind. 

However, clothing and accessories that promote voting is fair game!

 

Can I bring my kids to the polling place?

Looking to get your kids excited about the political process? Luckily all 50 states allow adults to bring their children along to voting stations. There are state-specific rules about how old the child can be and how many you’re allowed to squeeze into the booth with you. So if you have 17-year-old quintuplets, check the rules before you go.

Lines might be long, so if your kids are on the younger side, make sure you have some snacks and prepare yourself for a long game of eye spy. Especially if you live in a state that doesn’t allow electronic devices which can conveniently stream Peppa Pig.

If you have a young girl in your life, don’t let the learning end there. Check out our Help Her Lead course and use the tools and activities provided to engage and inspire her.

 

When will we know the results?

Great question. And one that no one really knows the answer to at this point. There are so many factors that are attributing to possible delays in seeing a result. Because of pandemic precautions, early voting is already seeing long lines. There will be more than twice as many ballots mailed in as we saw in 2016. And there are 19 states that will accept mail-in ballots after Election Day is over. So it’s very possible that it could take a week or longer before we get any closure.

And these delays don’t only apply to the presidential election. You might not get your local results on election night either. We know. We’ll be on the edges of our seats too. 

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Looking for more information about ballots? Log in to the Community to watch the recording of our webinar we recently held with BallotReady Electoral Fellow Taylor Raymond and Rock the Vote’s Director of Civic Partnerships and Campaigns Allie Aguilera DiMuzio, where they provided tips on how to evaluate your ballot, reassured us that our vote is secure, and helped us with making a voting plan.