Voting

Justin Timberlake Ballot Selfie Leads to Silly Hand-Wringing Over Laws

States threaten criminal action, but federal judges have dim view of bans.

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Don't worry, Justin Timberlake! You're probably, maybe, possibly not going to have to shell out $50 or go to jail for 30 days for violating Tennessee's law against taking selfies at the ballot box.

Yes, this is a thing that is happening, and it didn't start in 2016. A few years back, people started getting into trouble for "ballot selfies." Many states have laws on the books to prohibit people from revealing the physical evidence of their votes in order to prevent corrupt "vote-buying" schemes.

It's also quite clearly a First Amendment violation. It never became an issue in the past because people weren't in the habit of carrying cameras around with them to the ballot box. But now everybody has a camera on the when they go to the ballot box thanks to smart phones.

This all leads us back to Timberlake, who broke the law in Tennessee by Instagramming a picture of himself at a voting station (early voting has begun there). You can't actually see who Timberlake is voting for, and the only purpose of the photo is to encourage people to go out and cast their ballots. Nevertheless, Us Weekly points out that Timberlake has violated the law.

Interestingly, this isn't an old, unused law Timberlake has run afoul of. It was a new law passed in 2015 that allows voters to use cellphones at voting locations but forbids them to take photos, videos, or make phone calls while in a polling place. Us Weekly was told by the local district attorney's office that Timberlake's transgression was "under review."

But he probably is going to be just fine, even if Tennessee attempts to press its case. On Monday, a federal district judge ruled that Michigan's law against ballot selfies was a violation of citizens' First Amendment right to free speech.

"The prohibition on ballot selfies reaches and curtails the speech rights of all voters," Judge Janet Neff ruled. Her ruling comes right on the heels of a similar federal ruling in New Hampshire in September that overturned at 2014 state ban on ballot selfies. On Monday, a Republican state senator in Colorado filed suit attempting to overturn his own state's ballot selfie ban.

So at the moment, federal rulings are on Timberlake's side here. Tennessee might want to think twice about trying to press the matter.

If you want to roll your eyes (maybe even while taking a selfie!), here's a state-by-state list compiled by the Associated Press of what laws are in place that determine whether voters can photograph their ballots.

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  1. Busted for social signaling?

  2. I just flew from LA to Memphis to #rockthevote !!! No excuses, my good people!

    Yeah, I’ll bet that was a real inconvenience for a millionaire!

    1. I had no idea that JT was from Memphis. I guess I must have moved back to Minnesoda from Memphis before he hit it big.

    2. Is Tennessee even the state where he spends the plurality of his time? How strict are their residency requirements? Hmm, maybe he’s being brought up on the wrong vote fraud charges!
      .
      Barring such problems, he could indeed just have ordered an absentee like a normal person. (Now that’s a real potential goldmine of vote sales or influence, as everyone seems unwilling for some reason to attack the low-hanging fruit of non-absentee-absentee “mail voting.”)
      .
      By the way, I can imagine even a very fraud-wary judge throwing this particular case out: It does not show any “physical evidence of his vote,” or indeed even definitively that he voted at all. It will be interesting to see if polling place photography permissions are constitutionally loosened in general–it has traditionally been a special “credentialed press privilege,” a distinction that seems to be disintegrating in maintainability all over, but I can see where the potential to be able to photograph someone else’s ballot might be a cause for concern.

      1. Tennessee? As in William Jennings Bryan prosecuting the Monkey Trial? Clarence Darrow being fined in contempt for expressing hope? Makes sense.

  3. Harebrained celebrities should on the other hand, *should* be banned from polling places.

    1. Disclaimer, I have no idea what Justin Timberlake’s political views are, he just serves as a proxy for all of the moronic political positions held by many of his peers.

      Oh and we still need an edit button.

      1. he just serves as a proxy for all of the moronic political positions held by many of his peers.

        You have tunnel vision.

        1. I would have guessed that he would be a typical Hollywood empty-headed leftist, but it would have been just that, a guess.

        1. He deserves jail time for those HRC photo booth pictures.

        2. Fair enough, but I don’t expend very much energy worrying about the political positions of pop musicians or any entertainer for that matter.

    2. Polling places are a natural habitat for libertarians with cojones. Besides, if he were a backbiting coward he’d be hanging around some magazine stand making snide comments about his betters. /twist

  4. Scott: LEAVE JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE ALONE!!!

    1. I celebrate his entire collection.

    2. Why don’t you just go by Jus?

    3. He’s won 9 Grammys, 4 Emmys, a bunch of other awards and nominations, and he plays guitar, bass, piano, and keyboard. He’s also a decent actor and a record producer.

      1. Playa was talking about his kitchen skills.

      2. Hugh Akston in with a TKO.

      3. 9 Grammys, 4 Emmys

        Remind me again how many Ricky Martin won? just so i can measure Timbo in terms of “multiples of ricky”

      4. I’ll grant the musicianship. The rest is big fat pile of meh.

        1. To wit: playing an instrument impresses me. Winning f’in grammys does not.

          1. Yeah same here. I mean he’s clearly got talent if he plays multiple instruments and every single one of his records has gone multiplatinum. I’ve never heard one of his songs, and I kinda doubt they would be my thing, but that’s not the same as being untalented.

            1. Eh, guitar/bass and piano/keyboard really counts as two instruments.

              I remember when I wanted to learn bass as a teenager, the guy offering lessons at the local store told me that the secret to becoming a great bass player is to first become a great guitar player.

              1. I thought the secret to becoming a great bass player was to stop showering.

              2. the guy offering lessons at the local store told me that the secret to becoming a great bass player is to first become a great guitar player.

                Sort of half-true. its more like “the secret to becoming a competent bass player is to learn how to play the guitar”

                Because the guitar requires you to think more polyphonically, and you become much more aware of how scales work within chord forms, etc.

                Being a “great” bass player however, requires you to hate/eschew everything about guitar-playing, and embrace being the dominant part of the rhythm section. Guitar players are all about “listen to me!”. Bass players should be about ‘listen to the music not notice me’.

      5. Milli Vanilli won a Grammy once. So what? Lemmy would wipe his ass with this shithead.

        Well, he would were he still alive, anyway.

        1. Don’t underestimate Lemmy’s prowess even in the grave.

    4. Hey, he’s a multitalented ass clown.

  5. Nevertheless, Us Weekly points out that Timberlake has violated the law.

    Cry me a river, Us Weekly.

    1. Looters and their laws. Spooner had ’em pegged: But a secret government is little less than a government of assassins. Under it, a man knows not who his tyrants are, until they have struck, and perhaps not then. He may guess, beforehand, as to some of his immediate neighbors. But he really knows nothing. The man to whom he would most naturally fly for protection, may prove an enemy, when the time of trial comes.
      Secret ballots, hooded night riders and ballot switchers…

  6. Justin will HEAR ME if I vote? That’s dope!

  7. Nevertheless, Us Weekly points out that Timberlake has violated the law.

    Us Weekly is showing its authoritarian true colors.

    1. Bernard Baruch’s jewish grandpappy rode with the Invisible Empire in response to secret ballots. And Baruch himself testified that his cronies made a bid deal of dressing up the hustings with partisan signals, then switching the Dem and Republican labeled ballot boxes right before voting began, so that freedmen, unable to read, cast their ballots in the wrong box! Secret ballots and compulsory voting are Australia’s worst exports–aside from Mad Cow Disease.

  8. Hey, Us Weekly, what goes around comes around.

  9. I’m trying to figure whether his writing tends more toward spambot or HERCULE.

  10. I’m shocked and disappointed he wasn’t wearing a suit and tie.

  11. the only purpose of the photo is to encourage people to go out and cast their ballots pander to Justin Timberlake’s ego

    1. That’s the only purpose of any selfie.

    2. He can’t stop that feeling.

  12. Hey! You! Yeah, YOU! I just flew from LA to Memphis to #rockthevote !!

    That makes about as much sense as Leonardo DiCaprio jetting halfway around the world for a 2-hour meeting on the climate change crisis.

    They have absentee ballots, you attention-whoring fuckface!

    1. Since when did attention-whoring become a bad thing around here?

  13. Pretty sure it’s a crime to wear that fucking hat in public.

  14. I just hope he didn’t have a gun. That would be scary.

  15. Kudos to JT for not endorsing a candidate in that post.*

    * – Ahhh, who’m I kidding, of course he’s voting Hillary.**

    ** – I refuse to lower myself by reviewing his social media accounts

    1. Didn’t he host a big fundraiser for Hillary Clinton recently at his LA pad? NTTAWWT, but I’m pretty sure he did.

      Not sure if she decried the Citizens United ruling or any other judicial protections of the 1A in her closed-door, $20k a plate dinner though. The media had a gag order.

      1. Here’s a little blurb.

        TRIGGER WARNING: Chelsea “Clinton” appreas in some of the selfies.

        1. “Clinton”

          Her real father is Darth Vader?

          1. She’s even got that largemouth bass look of her daddy.

            1. ANOTHER DNA test to trip up Slick Willie? Tsk tsk tsk… Then again, he’s not a candidate, nor holding a job wanted by some political soft machine. Safe.

  16. that reason isn’t taking a strong stance in favor of jailing justin timberlake makes me think i might never be a libertarian.

  17. It’s my pic in a box
    My pic in a (ballot) box, girl

  18. Many states have laws on the books to prohibit people from revealing the physical evidence of their votes in order to prevent corrupt “vote-buying” schemes.

    Do we disbelieve that people could be paid for their votes and asked to take a picture to provide evidence that the purchaser got what what was paid for?

    What’s the point of the article? Complaining that a celebrity might be prosecuted for something that is seen to not be a crime? Complaining that a celebrity will skate on something that is a crime?

    It’s also quite clearly a First Amendment violation.

    Is it, now? I thought the point of a secret ballot is to prevent vote-buying. If people with the cash to do so can’t get bona fide proof of their purchase, they’d be disinclined by market forces to pay for votes. That seems like an arrangement that should please us.

    I’d like to hear arguments against these laws, if there are any.

    1. Hell, i’d sell my vote to the highest bidder in a heartbeat. It’s the only way i’m gonna benefit from this election at all.

      1. Some would probably do so for a hot meal. Some for a promise. Some because a threat of violence hangs over their head if they don’t vote “the right way.” There are tons of reasons I can think of to preserve secret ballots and harshly punish people caught violating the laws and none against.

        Still, this is a smart bunch of people who may have thought about it a lot more than me and I’m prepared to hear the contrarians.

    2. I’d like to hear arguments against these laws, if there are any.

      Uhh, because I’ve watched the three branches of government my entire life, and vote-selling is the cornerstone of American Democracy?

      If Nancy Pelosi can sell her vote, why can’t I sell mine?

      1. The sunshine laws that require our congresscritters to cast their ballots in the open are a relatively new experiment in American democracy, one that I’m not sure is going particularly well in this instance.

        Maybe you’d like to argument in favor of repeal or do you believe that no matter what is done that voting is a sham? Can each system that relies on voting be fixed?

        1. to argument heh. I’ll try to proofread better. 😉

        2. Honestly, I have very little opinion on the matter. One part of me thinks it’s slightly icky that someone would “sell” their vote, but on the other hand, you’re essentially passing a TSA-style law trying to stop someone from ostensibly selling their vote- while it’s well known that vote-selling of one kind or another is, and I wasn’t kidding, the cornerstone of Democracy.

          I have no problem with general efforts to keep elections “clean”, like say if you have parameters or metrics for voter eligibility, I don’t have an issue with some kind of law that verifies that you’re who you are, you’re eligible and that you only voted once (or as many times as your election process allows).

          But any attempt to tell people they “may” or “may not” vote a certain way is pretty dubious, both in effectiveness and intent.

    3. Also to prevent, say, an employer from punishing an employee who votes against the interests of the employer.

      But I wonder how secret one’s ballot really is. In Pa. you are given a numbered ballot and the election worker writes the number next to your name on the voting list. Is there anything to prevent an “interested party” from later determining how you voted by comparing the paper ballot to the voting register?

      1. I could totally see Hobby Lobby making inappropriate use of that information. A zillion leftist tech companies too. What better way to root all the conservative voters still employed at Facebook, for example, than to get the laws overturned that protect voting secrecy and then code up a bot to scrape the selfies and use recognition tech to decide which pictures have ballots in them? I don’t think anyone believes Facebook wouldn’t do it, use it however they choose, and sell the data it if they thought it was in their interests to do so.

        1. Now you’re sort of describing a selfie-taker-beware situation. Don’t do dumb shit and post it on Facebook.

          Or better said:

          We ignored all your I’m voting for Hillary wall posts, and discovered this selfie and our facial recognition software tied in with the OCR scanning tech determined that you may have voted for Hillary.

          Aside: Is it ever a mystery who anyone on Facebook is voting for?

          1. Aside: Is it ever a mystery who anyone on Facebook is voting for?

            I doubt it, but having proof positive that the person you paid to go vote is in a selfie with their ballot is valuable even if you think that person was already inclined to vote that way. Even the most hardcore shill in your social circle may not actually drive to a polling place and pull the lever for anyone. They may just want to convince everyone else to do something that they can’t be arsed to. They may decide to say “fuck it” at the last minute when they’re being told by the news that the exit polls are suggesting their candidate’s not got a snowball’s chance anymore.

      2. Absentee voting seems to come with a bar code or qr code that presumably ties you in with your ballot. How those statistics are kept post-election, I have no idea.

        1. I can tell you how NOT: honestly!

  19. I would like to see JT charged and prosecuted so he can challenge the law and have SCOTUS strike it down. More likely though the judge will snowball him and let him off with community service that he can do by recording a PSA.

    1. Perhaps he could do some community work with underaged at-risk girls?

  20. In Pennsylvania, the electronic machine simply clears once you display the “cast vote” button. If somebody tried to buy votes, requiring photo verification, you could screw them simply by changing your votes after you take the picture but before you officially cast them. I’m not sure what variations may still exist out in rural districts (Do we use paper anywhere? Mechanical machines? Who knows.).

    I see from the ABC News site that PA law prohibits “revealing their ballot ‘letting it be known how’ they’re ‘about to vote’, which is rather absurd for the reason I just specified, but that PA courts have (in strangely sensible fashion) ruled that “ballot selfies” are First Amendment protected.

    1. Yep, them looters sore do distrust their comrades, agents and buddies. Like Lysander Spooner wrote of the tax collectors of whom the government in 1862 required posting of substantial performance bonds: “If you thought I was fool enough to allow you to keep yourselves concealed, and use me as your tool for robbing other persons; or that I would take all the personal risk of the robberies, and pay over the proceeds to you, you were particularly simple. As I took all the risk of my robberies, I propose to take all the profits. Begone! You are fools, as well as villains. If I gave my oath to anybody, I gave it to other persons than you. But I really gave it to nobody. I only gave it to the winds. It answered my purposes at the time. It enabled me to get the money I was after, and now I propose to keep it. If you expected me to pay it over to you, you relied only upon that honor that is said to prevail among thieves.”

  21. If ever a cause merited civil disobedience, this is the cause. Vote fraud is perpetrated by the political machines that use threats of legislation as extortion levers, not individual voters. If some band of looters were to invent a lie that individual voters were daring to peddle votes as though they were state legislators or congressional boodlers, the solution would be to have Trooper Tiller of Seneca lay a trap for them by offering to make a buy, and shoot a couple dozen in the back. Solicitors like Crissy Adams could then stamp the the murders “Justifiable” and clean out the handcuffed cadavers’ pockets and bank accounts, then nationalize their homes for “civil asset forfeiture.” Hell, with free-market liberals running hog wild repealing prohibition like FDR had just been elected, trooper Klaverns will be needing another source of funds anyway. This solution allows us the verifiable votes Lysander Spooner insisted upon while still letting the looters and lynch mobs by law have a little fun and profit.

  22. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  23. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  24. I’m less concerned with him taking a picture as I am with why someone who reportedly lives in California is still voting in TN. That’s potentially voter fraud. Has anyone bothered to check the (public) voting records in CA to see if he’s registered there too?

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