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Are 'Ballot Selfies' Legal?

by Melony Roy

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Can you take a "ballot selfie" on election day? There's been confusion - and even sanctions.

The law may be on your side, but the poll watchers might not be.

A recent review by The Associated Press shows ballot selfies are legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, illegal in 17 states, and the legal status is mixed or unclear in the rest -- and that includes Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley thinks in most cases, it will be okay for people in Pennsylvania to take "ballot selfies."

"If the photo is taken in the spirit of the election to add enthusiasm and to inform people that its election day and 'hey I voted, come out and vote too.' I don't think that it'd be a problem," said Deeley.

However, while there's no law forbidding them, there isn't one allowing it, either.

"The state law regarding election was put in place back in 1937. I don't think ballot selfies were an issue then," said Patrick Christmas from the committee of 70.

In September, the Pennsylvania Department of State released guidance on the issue.

"They recommend that if someone is going to take a selfie that they only take a picture of their ballot and no one else's. Secondly, they strongly recommend that they do not post this picture until they have left the polling place," said Christmas.

The issue of "ballot selfies" has become contentious, with social networks themselves getting involved.

Snapchat filed a 26-page brief against a "ballot selfie" ban in New Hampshire and won. A federal appeals court ruled the ban was unconstitutional.

Delaware has a policy against cell phones in voting booths, but elections officials have said they don't know that they can control what happens behind the curtain.

In New Jersey, there's pending legislation to permit ballot selfies.

Regardless of how unclear the laws are on "ballot selfies", a scroll through the #ivoted hashtag on Twitter and Instagram shows that a lot of people are still going to take them, anyway.

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