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  • Writer's pictureOcampo Wiseman Law

Is it legal to take a selfie in a voting booth?

The elections are swiftly approaching and social media usage is on the rise, which has naturally made people start to wonder whether or not it is legal to take a selfie while voting. Well, the law in this area is not entirely clear.

Currently, Nevada statutes make it illegal, with limited exceptions for media professionals, to take photographs or recordings of voting. NRS 293.274. This would include voters photographing themselves while voting. Nevada also makes it illegal for anyone to show their completed ballot to anyone else. NRS 293.730(1). This would include taking a selfie which shows you with your completed ballot. Laws like these exist to help prevent vote buying, voter coercion, and similar forms of voter fraud.

Federal courts have recently found a very similar law in New Hampshire to violate the Constitution in Rideout v. Gardner. The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit noted that there had been no real evidence presented of coordinated vote buying of the kind the bill was meant to prevent in New Hampshire since the late 1800s. The court found that there “are strong First Amendment interests held by the voters” in being able to take selfies with their ballots, and that the statue banning them was far too broad for its purpose in preventing vote buying or voter coercion. It found that the statute could not even survive intermediate scrutiny. It thus declared the statute unconstitutional.

Nevada is in the Ninth Circuit, rather than the First Circuit, and the laws are similar but not identical. Although the reasoning in Rideout v. Gardner is powerful and would likely be borrowed if a similar case were brought in the Ninth Circuit, the ruling is not binding here. So, even though the laws banning ballot selfies in Nevada would likely be struck down if and when challenged, they remain in force currently.

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