Snapchat ballot selfies could become a huge thing
Are Snapchat ballot selfies fun or disrespecting the system? If Snapchat has its way, Americans will be able to take as many selfies they want, when they go to vote in November during the 2016 presidential election.
Americans might be able to take Snapchat ballot selfies during the primaries and general election in the fall. On Friday, Snapchat, the giant image messaging application software product, which hosts 2 billion photos and videos per day, has thrown their support behind the American Civil Liberties Union via an amicus brief.
The 96-year-old nonpartisan, non-profit organization is challenging the state of New Hampshire for its decision to ban selfies in voting booths. ACLU had sued the state on behalves of three New Hampshire voters, citing their First Amendment right to free speech.
In August 2015, a federal court declared the ACLU the winner in the case and the state of New Hampshire immediately filed an appeal, which prompted Snapchat’s legal team to step in.
Snapchat said in their amicus brief that New Hampshire should lift the ban on ballot selfies because it is “the latest way that voters, especially young voters, engage with the political process.” Attorneys said in court documents:
“A ballot selfie—like a campaign button—is a way to express support for or against a cause or a candidate. And because it is tangible proof of how a voter has voted, a ballot selfie is a uniquely powerful form of political expression. It proves that the voter’s stated political convictions are not just idle talk. Not only that, but ballot selfies and other digital expressions of civic engagement encourage others to vote—particularly younger voters who have historically low turnout rates. Ballot selfies are thus all at once deeply personal and virtuously public expressions. And they’re the sort of expressions that the State cannot categorically ban without violating the First Amendment.”
Snapchat cited the catastrophic 2000 US presidential election’s Florida recount, which they believe could have been better handled if voters and reporters had access to the poorly designed “butterfly ballots.” New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner stated that they want the cameras away from the voting booths to preserve the secrecy of the ballot and prevent election-fixing. Gardner said:
“Going back a long time in history, there always have been attempts to take that secrecy away.”
Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, which also filed an amicus brief, said that allowing young people to take selfies when they vote, participating in democracy. Silverman explained:
“More importantly, it’s about keeping the system honest, and documenting the election process and quickly identifying flaws that might be on the ballot and being able to share them quickly and easily with other voters.”
Voters in South Carolina can take photographs while in their booth, but Pennsylvania and Vermont, will fine a person up to $1,000 for a ballot selfie.