Someone asked me other day what I meant by being a fan of Americana.
Apple Pie. Parades. The Big E.
Voting Booth Selfies? Not so fast.
As the Presidential election heats up, no matter who you’re voting for, you can be sure of one thing—people will likely show up at the polls next month. Especially the millenials, equipped with their iphones and smartphones. And because many millenials can’t go to the bathroom without snapchatting or posting their every-moment, you can also be certain they will want to forever memorialize (or at least for a quick Snapchat 10 seconds) their experience in the voting booth.
But lawmakers and courts aren’t necessarily having it, as a majority of states have passed laws which protect the privacy of their voting booths from serial social media posters.
So where does Connecticut stand on the issue? Well, depends who you ask…
Believe it or not, it’s probably a Class D felony to take a selfie in a Connecticut voting booth. Many of the best Connecticut criminal lawyers will likely point you to C.G.S. 9-366 which criminalizes a wide range of conduct while you’re voting. The law states that “any act which invades or interferes with the secrecy of the voting or causes the same to be invaded or interfered with” is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail.
To my knowledge (and that of my research team), this law have NEVER been enforced in a selfie situation. Last year a New Hampshire federal court overturned a ruling which banned selfies in a voting booth, and that decision is being aggressively appealed by the New Hampshire Secretary of State. (Selfie supporters should check out the “amicus” First Circuit brief filed by Snapchat which makes compelling legal arguments in favor of voting booth selfies. That brief probably cost $50K to write and file—who would’ve thunk there would be a whole body of law on the constitutional right to take selfies!).
We would all agree that posting someone else’s vote on the internet would certainly be a violation of Connecticut’s voting laws, but what about the legality of posting your own vote in a selfie or a Snapchat? The law’s priority is secrecy…but it’s really meant to protect the voter taking the selfie, and if you want to post your vote to the virtual world, well isn’t that your constitutionally protected right?
Connecticut law isn’t clear on this point. So I reached out to state lawmakers and law enforcement for clarification. William Tong, State Rep. William Tong (Dem.) is the chairman of the State’s Legislature’s judiciary committee. “I find it hard to imagine that law enforcement would expend resources enforcing a law like this, but it’s probably a good idea to avoid taking photographs in or around a voting booth, as it could lead to confusion among polling officials and may lead to the police being called.”
As any of the top Stamford, Greenwich or Connecticut criminal lawyers would tell you, there’s almost zero chance you would go to jail for this. But in this reality show of an election, keep your guard up because anything is possible, and you don’t want to be the test case in Connecticut for the enforcement of Connecticut voting booth selfie laws.
The bottom line is that it’s indisputably legal in Connecticut to take a selfie anywhere outside the voting room. Just don’t do it in the voting booth, and if you do, know that you’re probably violating Connecticut’s election and voting privacy laws. So selfie at your own risk in the voting booth!
The Connecticut Criminal Lawyers Blog is published by the Mark Sherman Law Firm, which has been serving Connecticut for over 15 years. We continue to try and stay on top of emerging areas of law in social media and computer crimes, and will continue to share our thoughts with our readers through this blog and our other websites. If you have any questions or are in need of assistance with any Connecticut criminal law arrests or investigations, give our firm a call at (203) 358-4700. We are available 24/7 to take your call.