On Wednesday, Oct. 26, news outlets began reporting on singer Justin Timberlake and his allegedly illegal “ballot selfie” controversy. Timberlake had taken a selfie while at a polling station in his native state of Tennessee. However, these kinds of photos have been banned in that particular state.
Voters have been sharing ballot selfies to show that they have voted, as well as to encourage others to vote. The photos have been met with some negative reviews, with opponents claiming that the photos intrude on a private matter, as well as trivialize the act of voting. Some states have even taken the issue to a legal level.
Ballot selfies have been banned in 18 states, according to ABC News. The laws in these states vary, though they all focus on the privacy associated with voting. While many states have taken a firm stand against the ballot selfies, Arkansas’ laws remain unclear.
The law in Arkansas regarding photos taken at polling stations states that as long as the individual taking the photos isn’t disruptive or using the photos for campaigning purposes, photography is allowed, but the instance of a ballot selfie is not addressed, USA Today reported.
Many supporters of the ballot selfie claim that the snapshot captures the importance of exercising the right to vote. A quick search of the #ballotselfie hashtag on Instagram returns hundreds of results of voters proudly displaying their ballots or absentee ballots with some sort of caption about the magnitude of this election.
Despite the encouraging intentions of the ballot selfie, many concerned voters are taking a stand against them.
Meliny Pond, a sophomore from California who turned in her absentee ballot earlier this week, agreed with those opposing the idea of the ballot selfie.
“As Americans, we often share our political beliefs loud and proud,” Pond said. “But when you are voting you have your own separate space to decide, and allowing people to invade that space is ridiculous. Discussing politics with friends is one thing, but revealing your official vote is a step too far.”
Regardless of your personal stance on ballot selfies, take caution. Lists of states that have banned ballot selfies can be found online, and most polling stations have also posted rules regarding photography.