Snapchat wants ballot selfies decriminalized

Ballot selfies could be un-banned

Voting is the lifeblood of a thriving democracy... that, and taking selfies.

In one of the weirdest requests made to the democratic process, Snapchat is appealing to lift bans against taking self-portraits at the polls.

While not a nationwide law, a majority of states have restrictions against taking selfies at the voting booth - or showing your ballot to another person in general, which can result in a fine or, in some states, a felony charge.

Despite these laws, Snapchat believes the practice stifles the willingness of many to engage in the political process.

"Ballot selfies are the latest in a long historical tradition of voters sharing their civic enthusiasm - and their votes - with their social networks," stated the company in an amicus brief intended to help overturn New Hampshire's ban against booth snaps, which is currently undergoing appeal.

The photo-sharing app believes that these restrictions not only run counter to getting young folks interested in the election, but also prevents a voter's First Amendment right to "express their civic pride."

Snapchat added that granting literal visibility to ballots could help the media highlight issues and improve the process, citing the 2000 US presidential election's Florida recount, in which poorly designed "butterfly ballots" caused voters to pick the wrong candidate, as an example.

Originally, photographs at the polls were prohibited as a means of preventing election-fixing. To protect citizens from being pressured to vote for a certain candidate, several states banned photographing completed ballots so that a person could keep mum about their political affiliation.

Will silly filters and emoji stickers become the digital successor to the "I Voted" sticker? If Snapchat getting its way means more young folks will turn out this election, we think the company's appeal is "dope" and "fresh."

Top image credit: Ben Schumin via Wikimedia Commons

Parker Wilhelm
Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He likes to tinker in Photoshop and talk people's ears off about Persona 4.