Here it is. For real. Yes, for real for real. A definitive answer.
You cannot take a selfie with your ballot on Election Day.
Why? It’s against the law.
Read Florida Statute 104.20: “Any elector who, except as provided by law, allows his or her ballot to be seen by any person … is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.” A first-degree misdemeanor is (again, according to statute) punishable by imprisonment of no more than a year.
Those are the rules. Doesn’t mean you’re going to get locked up for doing it. But it is against the law.
That also doesn’t mean you have to leave your cell phone at home. Sample ballots, voter guides, newspaper recommendations — many of them are at hand on your trusty cell phone. Local supervisors of elections have the right “to implement policies and procedures to maintain order at the polls,” according to Sarah Revell, director of communications at the Florida Department of State. That could, theoretically, include a prohibition of cell phones at the polls.
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But probably not. In Tampa Bay, elections officials in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties all said it’s okay to use your phone, as long as you’re not disrupting the voter operation.
“If someone is caught taking a photo, we tell them it’s not allowed — we do not confiscate their phone or ballot,” said Gerri Kramer, communications director for the Hillsborough supervisor of elections office.
“The issue is technology is ahead of the law,” wrote Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, in an email. “We have no issue with voters who have their phone out while in the polling place (no talking as it’s disruptive and speaks to maintenance of order at the polls). We have signage as voters enter the polling room that says ‘no photography allowed.’ ”
And outside? Well, Pasco and some other supervisors all but encourage it, according to Corley.
“(We) now have a selfie station,” he wrote. “Voters love them (particularly first time voters).”
Voting can be hard. Got questions or concerns? Let us know. The Tampa Bay Times this year has partnered with ProPublica on a project called Electionland, to look at the process of voting. Follow @TB_Times or @Electionland on Twitter, and find both on Facebook. Email a reporter directly at [email protected]