No, #BallotSelfies are not allowed in Texas voting booths

People standing in line to vote early at the Randall's grocery store on Braker and US 183 on Oct. 24, 2016 (KXAN Photo/John Dabkovich)
People standing in line to vote early at the Randall's grocery store on Braker and US 183 on Oct. 24, 2016 (KXAN Photo/John Dabkovich)

AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) — If you are so proud you made it to the polls you feel the urge to snap a picture of yourself in the voting booth, think again, if you’re in Texas.

Texas law prohibits voters from using a “wireless communication device” or “any mechanical or electronic means of recording images or sound” within 100 feet of a voting station. Yes, that includes cell phones.

“It’s okay to check messages while you’re standing in line, but put it away when it comes time to vote,” said Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir. “And certainly don’t take a picture of your ballot.”

Still, the section of the law banning use of cell phones doesn’t list specific penalties, except for asking violators to leave or turn of their phones.

A Colorado lawmaker and voter filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday seeking to overturn a state law that bars people from taking photos of their ballots.The suit was filed by Republican state Sen. Owen Hill, of Colorado Springs, and Scott Romano of Littleton. “Ballot selfies” are a misdemeanor in Colorado.

A review by The Associated Press found 18 states have laws against sharing ballot photos. Six other states bar photography in polling places but permit photos of mail-in ballots.

Courts have struck down bans in New Hampshire and Indiana, and rules have been changed in California and Rhode Island.

Justin Timberlake flew from California to Tennessee in order to vote early. The singer posted a picture of himself at the voting booth on Instagram Monday, noting that if he could make that effort, then there are, “No excuses, my good people!” As of Wednesday morning, Timberlake has taken down the photo from his Instagram account.

A Tennessee law that took effect earlier this year bars voters from taking photographs or video while inside a polling location. Tennessee secretary of state spokesman Adam Ghassemi says officials are “thrilled Justin can’t stop the feeling,” but reminded voters to use their phones inside polling locations only to help them vote.

Timberlake lives in California, but grew up in the Memphis area and owns property near Nashville. Back in Texas, DeBeauvoir doesn’t think the laws will change. She points to last legislative session when a bill to allow cell phones for research purposes at the polls failed to pass.

“I don’t think [the recent ruling in the New Hampshire case] is going to mean anything in Texas because I think there’s this strong sense of protecting privacy,” said DeBeauvoir.

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