Court Rules in Favor of Ballot Selfies

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Say “electoral college!”Photo: IAN HOOTON/Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

There are only (only!) 40 more days until the election, which means you have just 40 days left to perfect your voting smize. (Or your prune. Or your fingermouth — pick your preferred selfie pose.) Don’t worry, you’ll be protected by law: A federal appeals court just upheld a decision that struck down a ban on ballot photography for violating the First Amendment.

Voting selfies have a storied history in the United States. Taking a photo of your ballot has been illegal in New Hampshire for several decades, theoretically to keep people from selling their votes and then using their selfie as proof. (The Wall Street Journal reports there was “little evidence” of this ever actually happening in the state.) “In 2014, New Hampshire amended a statute meant to avoid vote buying and voter intimidation by newly forbidding citizens from photographing their marked ballots and publicizing such photographs,” the opinion from today’s ruling, provided to Select All by an associate at the law firm Hogan Lovells, explains.

With that, one of the defendants in the case, Andrew Langlois, faced potential fines after writing in a vote for his dog and posting a picture of it on Facebook during the 2014 primaries. And Langlois wasn’t the only one who who thought the statute was bogus. As the selfie ban worked its way through the courts, Snapchat even filed an amicus brief in favor of striking it down. (A company whose product runs on selfies is … pro-selfie? Go figure!)

But now, New Hampshire voters are in the clear to check the box (pull the lever?) for Trump, Clinton, or the Easter Bunny and take a picture of themselves doing it. As for voters in the rest of the country, each state has its own rules regarding ballot selfies (you can check them here) — but if this appellate-court decision is any indication, those laws are in danger of being struck down as well. Not that there aren’t other ways to let my loyal social-media followers know I voted for someone other than my dog.