Taking a selfie on Election Day in NJ could land you in jail
New Jersey 101.5 video
Under current New Jersey law, showing other people a picture of yourself with your recorded ballot while you’re in the voting booth is a crime punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
One New Jersey legislator, however, says it's time for a change.
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson, is sponsoring a measure that would allow people to take a selfie with their ballot and post it on Facebook and other sites.
He said many younger people are always expressing themselves and sharing their feelings by using social media, so the law needs to go.
“If someone wants to display their pride in participating in their democracy, in being active in the electoral process, we want to encourage millennials to vote,” he said.
“If someone remembers to vote because they saw one of their friends or colleagues on social media posting a ballot selfie, we ought not to make that a crime.”
It's not just in New Jersey. Justin Timberlake has been in the news because he shared with his millions of fans a selfie of him voting in Memphis, Tenn., this month. But that's illegal in that state, too. Authorities have since said that they would not prosecute the pop star.
Mukherji pointed out New Jersey’s law banning the practice of sharing this kind of photo may not be constitutional.
“At least one federal court has said that it’s not. The fact that this is even on the books may not even be legal,” he said.
"This is not rocket science here. I think people are doing it anyway. All this bill would do is make it your choice if you want to post a photograph of your own ballot. We have better things to do than criminalize that kind of behavior. Allowing people the freedom to speak freely and show the world they’re participating in a democracy, that’s their right.”
The measure has been released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee and now awaits a vote by the full Assembly. A companion bill in the state Senate is awaiting action.
Contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.