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State Laws Vary on Polling Place Photography

(This guest posting comes via Lauren Gelman, deputy director of the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School.)

UPDATED

When we asked for your questions, we never expected that 80% would be about taking photographs or videos at the polls.

Research by student fellows at the Stanford University Law School’s Center for Internet & Society has, ironically, concluded that this is one question without a clear answer. So the students compiled a 50-state guide (we missed a couple in the first posting; are any missing now?– they’re still working on the last few — to point you to the laws and regulations, with a little commentary on how they think the laws might apply to the following questions:

  • Can you photograph or video your vote inside the polling station– either a paper ballot or electronic screen?
  • Can you photograph or video yourself voting inside the polling station?
  • Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?
  • Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?
  • Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?
  • Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station and can you video or blog their answers?

Remember: This is not legal advice. This is especially true as there are no clear legal answers to all these questions in all states.

Because the information is written for a general audience, without investigation into the facts of each particular case, it is not legal advice: we have no attorney-client relationship with you.

Again, while we have endeavored to provide accurate responses to the questions we received, we cannot guarantee the answers. (This is for your protection and ours — we do not have the resources to analyze every situation individually.) What we have tried to do is to point you to the sections of the code that apply to your question, and the give you some general thoughts on how those sections of the code apply.

Please contact your local Board of Elections and/ or a lawyer if you’re searching for legal advice on your specific activities.

Use your common sense. We encourage you to ask election officials if they mind your taking a picture of yourself voting or of your vote. We encourage you not to take pictures of other people voting unless you get their permission. You do not want to do anything to intimidate someone, or appear to be trying to influence their vote. Call your local election board before you go to vote and ask them your questions.

Most poll workers on election day are just trying to do their job and make sure everyone gets a fair chance to vote. Be sensitive to making sure they are able to get their job done right.

Report any incidents to the People for the American Way Voter Hotline:

Or go to Video the Vote. (Also check out the advice on this site for people planning to video their vote).

Meanwhile, here’s the state-by-state rundown — apologies for the earlier missing states — (again, this is based on research by the Stanford students):


Alabama
Only voters, police, and election officials are allowed within 30 feet of polling places.

(Code of Ala. § 17-7-18.) This would seem to prohibit media and individuals who have already voted.Appointed watchers have the right “generally to observe the conduct of the election.” (Code of Ala. § 17-9-29.) But this rule says nothing about unappointed observers, nor the ability to record images.Loitering around a polling place “for the purpose of discouraging qualified electors” is a misdemeanor, carrying fines between $25 and $500.

(Code of Ala. § 17-7-19.) The language implies that mere loitering, without this purpose, is technically permitted.Alabama enacted new election statutes that will take effect on January 1, 2007. These answers reflect current law.

Code of Ala. § 17-7-18 (2006): Persons prohibited near polling place. Except as electors are admitted to vote and persons to assist them as herein provided, and except the sheriff or his deputy, the inspectors, returning officer, clerks of elections and watchers, no person shall be permitted within 30 feet of the polling place.

Code of Ala. § 17-7-19 (2006): Loitering near polling place. (Repealed effective January 1, 2007) Any person who loiters in, around or about a polling place on election day for the purpose of discouraging qualified electors from entering the voting place, or from voting, or whoever having voted enters or stands in a line or file of voters waiting to vote, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not less than $25.00 nor more than $500.00.

Code of Ala. § 17-23-8 (2006): Obstructing voting process. (Repealed effective January 1, 2007) Any person who, on election day, disturbs or prevents, or attempts to prevent, any elector from freely casting his ballot must, on conviction, be fined not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,000.00, and also sentenced to hard labor for the county, or imprisoned in the county jail for not less than six months nor more than one year.

Code of Ala. § 17-9-29 (2006): Watchers. (Repealed effective January 1, 2007) At all elections in which voting machines are used, duly appointed watchers shall have the right to see all oaths administered and signed, the record of assisted voters, the list of qualified voters, the poll lists and any and all records made in connection with the election. Watchers shall have the right to observe the preliminaries of opening the polls, as provided in Section 17-9-18, and the right to remain in the polling place throughout the election and until the results of the election shall have been posted, and the machines sealed, as provided by law. Watchers shall have the right generally to observe the conduct of the election. An official who refuses to allow any watchers to exercise such rights shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be punished as prescribed by law.

Alaska
Alaska has a statute prohibiting the identification of ballots (Alaska Stat. § 15.15.290), which might be used to prohibit video/photo activities that can identify voters and their ballots.

Alaska also permits watchers to monitor elections, but is unclear about whether they can take images. (Alaska Stat. § 15.10.170.)The laws for “unlawful interference with voting” (Alaska Stat. § 15.56.030) and “voter misconduct” (Alaska Stat. § 15.56.040) do not explicitly outlaw video/photo activities.

Alaska Stat. § 15.15.290 (2006): Prohibiting the identification of ballots. While the polls are open, an election official may not open any ballot received from a voter, or mark a ballot by folding or otherwise so as to be able to recognize it, or otherwise attempt to learn how a voter marked a ballot, or allow the same to be done by another person.

Alaska Stat. § 15.10.170 (2006): Appointment and privileges of watchers. The watcher may be present at a position inside the place of voting or counting that affords a full view of all action of the election officials taken from the time the polls are opened until the ballots are finally counted and the results certified by the election board or the data processing review board.

Alaska Stat. § 15.56.030 (2006) (unlawful interference with voting) and Alaska Stat. § 15.56.040 (2006) (voter misconduct) do not explicitly outlaw video/photo activities.

Arizona
The general law about the conduct of the election and placement of voting machines (A.R.S. § 16-570) implies that only one voter may access machine at a time, and that the machines will be locked, possibly implying that no photography of other voters is allowed.

A.R.S. § 16-603 (2006): Inspection of ballots by party representative. A mutually agreed upon number of representatives and alternates of each political party represented on the ballot by a party designation and column, appointed in the manner provided by section 16-590, may remain inside the voting area from the time the polls are closed, and, without unduly hindering or delaying the count, one representative from each party at a time may inspect the ballots as they are read and the tally lists as the votes are tallied or counted, but the ballots and tally lists shall at all times remain under the personal charge and keeping of the election officers and shall not be permitted to pass from their hands.

A.R.S. § 16-570 (2006): Conduct of election; duties of officers; placing machines. A. One election official shall attend the voting machine, and the other officers shall attend the poll books and perform the duties of election officials as provided by law. B. The voting machine shall be so placed and protected that it is accessible to only one voter at a time and is in full view of all election officers and watchers at the polling place. C. The election official attending the machine shall inspect the face of the machine periodically to ascertain whether the ballot labels are in their proper places and that the machine has not been injured or tampered with. D. During elections the door or other compartment of the machine shall not be unlocked or opened or the counters exposed except for good and sufficient reasons, a statement of which shall be made and signed by the election officers and attached to the returns.

Arkansas
Interfering with voting is a felony, though there is no mention of photo/video activity. (A.C.A. § 7-1-104.) Election officials “shall not allow any person to pass to the part of the room where the machine is situated, except for the purpose of voting.” (A.C.A. § 7-5-521.) It is not clear whether this applies to photographing your own vote, or voters entering and exiting the polling place.

A.C.A. § 7-1-104 (2006): Miscellaneous felonies – Penalties. (a) The following offenses shall be deemed felonies punishable as provided in this section: (6) It shall be unlawful for any person to prevent or to interfere with any qualified elector from voting at any election or to attempt to prevent or interfere with any qualified elector from voting at any election, provided that this subdivision (a)(6) shall not prohibit good faith challenges of ballots or voters according to law by candidates, authorized representatives of candidates, political parties, or ballot issues;

A.C.A. § 7-5-521 (2006): Arrangement of polling place. [Effective until January 1, 2006.]. (a) The exterior of the voting machine and every part of the polling place shall be in plain view of the election officials. (b) The machine shall be placed so that no person can see or determine how the voter casts his vote and so that no person can see or determine from the outside of the room how the voter casts his vote. (c) After the opening of the polls, the election officials shall not allow any person to pass to the part of the room where the machine is situated, except for the purpose of voting.

California
California has a clear ban on photography and videography: “No person shall, with the intent of dissuading another person from voting, within 100 feet of a polling place, . . . [p]hotograph, videotape, or otherwise record a voter entering or exiting a polling place.” (Cal Elec Code § 18541.) It’s not clear whether this applies to the media.Only voters engaged in voting can stay within the “voting booth area.” (Cal Elec Code § 14221.)

Cal Elec Code § 18541: Prohibited activities within 100 feet of polling place; Punishment for violation. (a) No person shall, with the intent of dissuading another person from voting, within 100 feet of a polling place, do any of the following: (3) Photograph, videotape, or otherwise record a voter entering or exiting a polling place.

Cal Elec Code § 14221 (2006): Persons permitted within voting booth area. Only voters engaged in receiving, preparing, or depositing their ballots and persons authorized by the precinct board to keep order and enforce the law may be permitted to be within the voting booth area before the closing of the polls.Cal Elec Code § 14224 (2006): Occupation of voting booths or compartments. Voters shall not remain in or occupy the booths or compartments longer than is necessary to mark their ballots, which shall not exceed 10 minutes.

Colorado
No statute prohibiting, however, some counties and polling sites will and can restrict people bringing in items used for video/photography. (per telephone conversation with Lisa Doran on November 3 – by the contents of 8 CO ADC 1505-1 which are the statutes governing elections.)

Connecticut
A copy of the laws referenced below governing Connecticut’s elections can be found at http://www.cga.ct.gov/2005/pub/Title9.htm.

1. Can you photograph or video yourself inside the polling station?

I found nothing prohibiting this.

It is worth noting that absentee ballots might be treated differently. Under Section 9-359 of the Connecticut General Statutes, it is a felony to execute an absentee ballot for the purpose of telling someone else how you voted. I think there might be a concern here that posting the picture of an absentee ballot violates this provision. See 9-359 of the Connecticut General Statutes, which states it is a felony to “executes an absentee ballot for the purpose of informing any other person how he votes, or procures any absentee ballot to be prepared for such purpose.”

2. Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?

Maybe. Under Section 9-236 of the Connecticut General Statutes, news media can enter the polling place for the purpose of observing the election. This might indicate that they can also photograph it. This does raise the question of whether a blogger qualifies as a member of the news media though. See Section 9-236 of the Connecticut General Statutes, “Representatives of the news media shall be allowed to enter, remain within and leave any polling place or restricted area surrounding any polling place to observe the election, provided any such representative who in any way interferes with the orderly process of voting shall be evicted by the moderator.” I spoke with an attorney with the Connecticut Board of Elections and he indicated an individual blogger not affiliated with the news media would likely have to maintain a 75 foot distance from the polling place, except when voting.

Anyone doing this type of photography should be careful though. Under Section 9-364 of the Connecticut General Statutes, it is a crime to influence an elector to stay away from the polls. Therefore, the photography/videoing should not be done in a way that might keep someone from voting. See Section 9-364 of the Connecticut General Statutes, “Any person who influences or attempts to influence any elector to stay away from any election shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars and imprisoned not more than one year nor less than three months.”

3. Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?

I found nothing indicating this was prohibited. I spoke with an attorney with the Connecticut Board of Elections and he indicated an individual blogger not affiliated with the news media would likely have to maintain a 75 foot distance from the polling place, except when voting.

Of course, anyone doing this type of photography should be careful though. Under Section 9-364 of the Connecticut General Statutes, it is a crime to influence an elector to stay away from the polls. Therefore, the photography/videoing should not be done in a way that might keep someone from voting. See Section 9-364 of the Connecticut General Statutes, “Any person who influences or attempts to influence any elector to stay away from any election shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars and imprisoned not more than one year nor less than three months.”

4. Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?

I found nothing indicating this was prohibited.

5. Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station?

I found nothing indicating this is prohibited. I called the Connecticut Board of Elections and one of their attorneys told me that individuals not affiliated with the media would likely have to stay beyond 75 feet. See Section 9-236 of the Connecticut General Statutes, “Representatives of the news media shall be allowed to enter, remain within and leave any polling place or restricted area surrounding any polling place to observe the election, provided any such representative who in any way interferes with the orderly process of voting shall be evicted by the moderator.”

6. If you do ask people questions when they leave the polling station, can you video or blog their answers?

According to an attorney at the Connecticut Board of Elections, the media is allowed to do this all the time. They go in and out of the polling stations, taking photographs and video.
However, there is a strict penalty for trying to induce someone to do something to enable others to see how he voted. Under this provision, a blogger might get in trouble for asking people questions with the intent to share their answers with the world. See Connecticut General Statutes 9-366, “Any person who induces or attempts to induce any elector to write, paste or otherwise place, on a write-in ballot voted on a voting machine at any election, any name, sign or device of any kind, as a distinguishing mark by which to indicate to another how such elector voted, or enters into or attempts to form any agreement or conspiracy with any person to induce or attempt to induce electors or any elector to so place any distinguishing mark on such ballot, or attempts to induce any elector to do anything with a view to enabling another person to see or know for what persons or any of them such elector votes on such machine, or enters into or attempts to form any agreement or conspiracy to induce any elector to do any act for the purpose of enabling another person or persons to see or know for what person or persons such elector votes, or attempts to induce any person to place himself in such position, or to do any other act for the purpose of enabling him to see or know for what candidates any elector other than himself votes on such machine, or himself attempts to get in such position to do any act so that he will be enabled to see or know how any elector other than himself votes on such machine, or does any act which invades or interferes with the secrecy of the voting or causes the same to be invaded or interfered with, shall be imprisoned not more than five years.”

Delaware:
A copy of the laws referenced below governing Delaware’s elections can be found at http://www.delcode.state.de.us/title15/index.htm.

1. Can you photograph or video yourself inside the polling station?

No. I spoke with Frank Calio, the Commissioner of Elections in Delaware. He told me that it is the Commissioner’s policy that no cameras are allowed inside the voting place. I believe this is an unwritten policy, as he was unable to provide me with a hard copy. The policy is based in his belief that the voter should be allowed to vote in privacy, without having cameras around. Even if a voter is only intending to photograph their own vote, this will be disallowed because of concerns that once pictures are being taken, it is difficult to control who they will be taken of.

2. Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?

No. I spoke with Frank Calio, the Commissioner of Elections in Delaware. He told me that it is the Commissioner’s policy that no cameras are allowed inside the voting place. I believe this is an unwritten policy, as he was unable to provide me with a hard copy.

3. Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?

This seems to be okay, provided you are filming/photographing the outside of the station. I think trying to photograph the inside of the station might be a problem, given the policy rationale behind the Commissioner of Elections’s rule that you cannot have cameras where people are voting.

4. Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?

I found nothing indicating this is prohibited.

5. Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station?

Yes. You can even be within 50 feet of the polling station if you are conducting an exit poll. However, you cannot talk to people who have not yet voted. See 15 Delaware Code Section 4933.

6. If you do ask people questions when they leave the polling station, can you video or blog their answers?
I found nothing indicating this is prohibited. Frank Calio, the Commissioner of Elections in Delaware confirmed that exit pollers may photograph and video responses and said he did not think he could keep people from sharing those photographs and videos once they left the polling place.

Florida
A copy of the laws referenced below governing Florida’s elections can be found at http://election.dos.state.fl.us/publications/pdf/2006_election_laws.pdf

1. Can you photograph or video yourself inside the polling station?

No. See 102.031(5) of the Florida Code, “no photography is permitted in the polling room or early voting area.”

2. Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?

No. See 102.031(5) of the Florida Code, “no photography is permitted in the polling room or early voting area.”

3. Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?

I found no law indicating you could not photograph the outside of a polling place. You cannot photograph people in the polling area, according to an interpretation of 102.031(5) made by an attorney with the Florida Division of Elections. See 102.031(5) of the Florida Code, “no photography is permitted in the polling room or early voting area.”

4. Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?

I found nothing prohibiting this. An attorney with the Florida Division of Elections warned me that the election supervisor might ask you to stop if your photographs or videos included shots into the polling place.

5. Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station?

You cannot ask people questions within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling station. See 102.031(4) of the Florida Code, “(4)(a) No person, political committee, committee of continuous existence, or other group or organization may solicit voters inside the polling place or within 100 feet of the entrance to any polling place, or polling room where the polling place is also a polling room, or early voting site. Before the opening of the polling place or early voting site, the clerk or supervisor shall designate the no-solicitation zone and mark the boundaries. (b) For the purpose of this subsection, the term “solicit” shall include, but not be limited to, seeking or attempting to seek any vote, fact, opinion, or contribution; distributing or attempting to distribute any political or campaign material, leaflet, or handout; conducting a poll; seeking or attempting to seek a signature on any petition; and selling or attempting to sell any item. (c) Each supervisor of elections shall inform the clerk of the area within which soliciting is unlawful, based on the particular characteristics of that polling place. The supervisor or the clerk may take any reasonable action necessary to ensure order at the polling places, including, but not limited to, having disruptive and unruly persons removed by law enforcement officers from the polling room or place or from the 100-foot zone surrounding the polling place.”

A very recent case in a court in Florida has removed the 100 foot requirement for exit pollers, according to an attorney with the Florida Board of Elections (I cannot find a cite to the case). However, the supervisors of the elections will set up strict rules for how you can be qualified as an exit poller and you should contact the supervisor of elections to determine how to be qualified as an exit poller.

6. If you do ask people questions when they leave the polling station, can you video or blog their answers?
I found no prohibitions on this, provided you are not an election official or an assistant to an election official.

Georgia
A copy of the laws referenced below governing Georgia’s elections can be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/GaCode/?title=21&chapter=2.

1. Can you photograph or video yourself inside the polling station?

No. You cannot use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices within the enclosed space in a polling place. Although the statute is not clear, this seems to apply to both the voting booth itself as well as the polling station more broadly. See 21-2-413(e) of Georgia’s Annotated Code, “No elector shall use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices or cellular telephones while such elector is within the enclosed space in a polling place.”

2. Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?

No. You cannot use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices within the enclosed space in a polling place. Although the statute is not clear, this seems to apply to both the voting booth itself as well as the polling station more broadly. See 21-2-413(e) of Georgia’s Annotated Code, “No elector shall use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices or cellular telephones while such elector is within the enclosed space in a polling place.”

3. Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?

I found no law indicating you could not photograph the outside of a polling place. Of course, you could not photograph the outside of a voting booth if you were standing within the polling place. See 21-2-413(e) of Georgia’s Code, “No elector shall use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices or cellular telephones while such elector is within the enclosed space in a polling place.”

4. Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?

I found no law indicating you could not do this. However, make sure the camera is outside of the polling place itself. See 21-2-413(e) of Georgia’s Annotated Code, “No elector shall use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices or cellular telephones while such elector is within the enclosed space in a polling place.”

5. Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station?

You cannot conduct an exit poll within 150 feet of the outer edge of the building of the polling place or within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote. Nor can you conduct an exit poll within a room where absentee ballots are being cast or within 150 feet of a voter waiting to cast absentee ballots (unless in a private office out of earshot of voters). See 21-2-414 of Georgia’s Code, “(a) No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute any campaign literature, newspaper, booklet, pamphlet, card, sign, or any other written or printed matter of any kind, nor shall any person conduct any exit poll or public opinion poll with voters on any primary or election day: (1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established; (2) Within any polling place; or (3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.”, “(c) No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute any campaign literature, newspaper, booklet, pamphlet, card, sign, or any other written or printed matter of any kind, nor shall any person conduct any exit poll or public opinion poll with voters within a room under the control or supervision of the registrars or absentee ballot clerk in which absentee ballots are being cast on any day or within 150 feet of any elector waiting to cast an absentee ballot pursuant to subsection (b) of Code Section 21-2-380. No campaign literature, booklet, pamphlet, card, sign, or other written or printed matter shall be displayed in any building containing a room under the control or supervision of the registrars or absentee ballot clerk in which absentee ballots are cast during the period when absentee ballots are available for voting. These restrictions shall not apply to conduct occurring in private offices or areas which cannot be seen or heard by such electors. ”

However, there seems to be no prohibition on exit polling provided the proper distance is kept.

6. If you do ask people questions when they leave the polling station, can you video or blog their answers?

Assuming annonyminity in the blog, I could find no law indicating this is prohibited, assuming the proper distance is kept during polling.

However, you may not be able to show specific responses to exit poll questions (such as identifying someone by name in the blog or showing their picture in video). It is a misdemeanor to disclose to anyone how another person voted, unless the law requires the disclosure. See 21-2-568 of the Georgia Code, “Any person who … (5) Discloses to anyone how another elector voted, except when required to do so in any legal proceeding shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Hawaii
Official contacted was unaware of any rules prohibiting.

Idaho
Idaho Code, Title 18 – Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 23 – Elections

18-2305. INTIMIDATION, CORRUPTION AND FRAUDS.
(available at http://www3.state.id.us/cgi-bin/newidst?sctid=180230005.K)

Every person who, by force, threats, menaces, bribery, or any corrupt means, either directly or indirectly attempts to influence any elector in giving his vote, or to deter him from giving the same, or attempts by any means whatever, to awe, restrain, hinder or disturb any elector in the free exercise of the right of suffrage, or furnishes any elector wishing to vote, who can not read, with a ticket, informing or giving such elector to understand that it contains a name written or printed thereon different from the name which is written or printed thereon, or defrauds any elector at any such election, by deceiving and causing such elector to vote for a different person, for any office, than he intended or desired to vote for; or who, being officer, judge, or clerk of any election, while acting as such, induces, or attempts to induce, any elector, either by menace or reward, or promise thereof, to vote differently from what such elector intended or desired to vote, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

18-2313. RIOTOUS CONDUCT AND INTERFERENCE WITH ELECTION.
(available at http://www3.state.id.us/cgi-bin/newidst?sctid=180230013.K)

Any person who wilfully disturbs, or is guilty of any riotous conduct at or near, any election place or voting precinct, with intent to disturb the same, or interferes with the access of the electors to the polling place, or in any manner, with the free exercise of the election franchise of the voters, or any voter there assembled, or disturbs or interferes with the canvassing of the votes, or with the making of the returns, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Idaho Code, Title 34 – Elections, Chapter 11 – Conduct of Elections

34-1110. OFFICERS NOT TO DIVULGE INFORMATION.
(available at http://www3.state.id.us/cgi-bin/newidst?sctid=340110010.K)

No judge or clerk shall communicate to anyone any information as to the name or number on the registry list of any elector who has not applied for a ballot, or who has not voted at the polling place; and no judge, clerk or other person whomsoever, shall interfere with, or attempt to interfere with, a voter when marking his ballot. No judge, clerk or other person shall, directly or indirectly, attempt to induce any voter to display his ticket after he shall have marked the same, or to make known to any person the name of any candidate for or against whom he may have voted.

The Idaho Code does not include any references to the use of film cameras or video cameras at polling places.

One provision (Idaho Code 18-2305) makes it a misdemeanor to “awe, restrain, hinder or disturb any elector in the free exercise of the right of suffrage.” Another provision (Idaho Code 18-2313) makes it a misdemeanor to “wilfully disturb[] . . . any election place or voting precinct . . . [or to] interfere[] with the access of the electors to the polling place, or in any manner, with the free exercise of the election franchise of the voters.” These provisions may or may not apply to the use of film or video cameras; it is unclear what level of disturbance is required to trigger a violation of the law. Overall, though, it seems like it would be legal to stand outside of a polling place to photograph or video the polling place and the people leaving the polling place, so long as the person with the camera does not interfere with access to the polling place or otherwise interfere with others’ ability to vote.

A third provision (Idaho Code 34-1110) states that no person “shall, directly or indirectly, attempt to induce any voter to display his ticket after he shall have marked the same.” Therefore, it may be illegal to photograph or video others while they are voting – particularly if the person with the camera views the another person’s ballot. However, the statute does not indicate whether a person can photograph or video his/her own ballot.

Illinois
10 ILL. COMP. STAT. 5/17
Article 17 – Conduct of Elections and Making Returns.
Link

(10 ILCS 5/17-11) (from Ch. 46, par. 17-11)
Sec. 17-11. On receipt of his ballot the voter shall forthwith, and without leaving the inclosed space, retire alone, or accompanied by children as provided in Section 17-8, to one of the voting booths so provided and shall prepare his ballot . . .

(10 ILCS 5/17-23) (from Ch. 46, par. 17-23)
Sec. 17-23. Pollwatchers in a general election shall be authorized in the following manner: [appointed by a political party, appointed by a candidate, appointed by an organization designed to investigate and prosecute election fraud, etc.]
. . .
Pollwatchers shall be permitted to observe all proceedings and view all reasonably requested records relating to the conduct of the election, provided the secrecy of the ballot is not impinged . . . .

(10 ILCS 5/17-29) (from Ch. 46, par. 17-29)
Sec. 17-29. (a) No judge of election, pollwatcher, or other person shall, at any primary or election, do any electioneering or soliciting of votes or engage in any political discussion within any polling place, within 100 feet of any polling place, or, at the option of a church or private school, on any of the property of that church or private school that is a polling place; no person shall interrupt, hinder or oppose any voter while approaching within those areas for the purpose of voting. Judges of election shall enforce the provisions of this Section.

10 ILL. COMP. STAT. 5/29
Article 29 – Prohibitions and Penalties.
Link

(10 ILCS 5/29-4) (from Ch. 46, par. 29-4)
Sec. 29-4. Prevention of voting or candidate support. Any person who, by force, intimidation, threat, deception or forgery, knowingly prevents any other person from (a) registering to vote, or (b) lawfully voting, supporting or opposing the nomination or election of any person for public office or any public question voted upon at any election, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

(10 ILCS 5/29-9) (from Ch. 46, par. 29-9)
Sec. 29-9. Unlawful observation of voting. Except as permitted by this Code, any person who knowingly marks his ballot or casts his vote on a voting machine or voting device so that it can be observed by another person, and any person who knowingly observes another person lawfully marking a ballot or lawfully casting his vote on a voting machine or voting device, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

The Illinois Compiled Statutes do not include any references to the use of film cameras or video cameras at polling places.

One provision (10 ILCS 5/29-4) makes it a felony to “knowingly prevent[] any other person from . . . lawfully voting.” This provision probably would not apply to the use of film or video cameras, unless the person with the camera actually prevented someone from voting. Another provision (10 ILCS 5/17-29) makes it a felony to “interrupt, hinder or oppose any voter while approaching [a polling place] for the purpose of voting.” It is not clear whether this would apply to the use of film or video cameras.

A third provision (10 ILCS 5/29-9) makes it a felony to mark a ballot or cast a vote “so that it can be observed by another person.” The same provision also makes it a felony to “observe another person lawfully marking a ballot or lawfully casting his vote . . .” This would prevent a person from photographing or recording someone else voting, but it would not prevent a person from photographing or recording himself/herself voting. In addition, 10 ILCS 5/17-11 requires voters to enter the voting booth alone (or with a child). This would also prevent a person from photographing or recording someone else voting.

I sent an email to the email address provided on the Illinois State Board of Elections website and asked about these questions. Response from Steve Sturm (Illinois State Board of Elections):

“There are no provisions either allowing or disallowing video or audio
taping of election proceedings. The only provisions which would affect
the ability of a person to tape proceedings are those which allow the
election judges to take complete control of the polling place and those
which prevent anyone from compromising the ability of voters to cast a
ballot in secret.

Our general advice to election authorities is that cameras should not be
allowed if they are disrupting the proceedings but that each
circumstance should be considered separately depending on the facts of
the individual cases.”

Indiana
Election Administor’s Manual (p 63), available at http://www.state.in.us/sos/elections/pdfs/2007ElectionAdminManual.pdf

MEDIA WATCHERS
The media may also appoint watchers to each precinct on Election Day. (IC 3-6-10-1)
Media entitled to name watchers include:
1) each daily, weekly, semiweekly or triweekly newspaper of general circulation in the county.
2) each news service operating in the county (e.g. Associated Press, Network Indiana).
3) each radio or television station operating in the county.
On the day before Election Day each corporation owning a news organization listed above must provide the circuit court clerk, the county election board and the county chairmen of each political party (or independent candidate’s committee), which has appointed watchers with a list of persons appointed to serve as media watchers for the news organizations. An officer of the corporation that owns the news organization must sign this list. A person appointed to act as a media watcher does not have to be a regular employee of the news organization. (IC 3-6-10-2; IC 3-6-10-4)
The county election board must issue identification cards to media watchers. If an individual is named to act as a media watcher in more than one (1) county, the identification card must be obtained from the Election Division. [Form IEC 5(b)] (IC 3-6-10-6)

Generally, a media watcher has the same rights and responsibilities as a watcher appointed by a political party chairman. However, a media watcher may not call upon the election sheriffs to make arrests. (IC 3-6-10-5.5)

NOTE: A media watcher may not photograph a voter if the voter objects or in a manner that would divulge how a voter cast their ballot. (IC 3-6-10-5)

From Indiana Code (IC), available at http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title3/ar6/ch10.html

IC 3-6-10-1
Media entitled to watchers
Sec. 1. The following media may appoint in writing one (1) watcher for each precinct:
(1) Each daily, weekly, semiweekly, or triweekly newspaper of general circulation in the county where an election is held.
(2) Each news service operating in the county where an election is held.
(3) Each radio or television station operating in the county where an election is held.

IC 3-6-10-5
Watcher identification card; powers; photographing proceedings; photographing voters
Sec. 5. (a) Each person who acts as a watcher under this chapter must obtain a watcher identification card from the county election board. The identification card issued under this subsection must clearly state the following:
(1) The status of the individual as an appointed watcher.
(2) The name of the individual serving as a watcher.
(3) The name of the person that appointed the individual as a watcher.
(b) Watchers appointed under this chapter do not have a voice or vote in any proceeding of a precinct election board. The watchers may attend the election as witnesses only and are subject to the orders of the board.
(c) Except as provided in subsection (d), a watcher appointed under this chapter may photograph the proceedings of a precinct election board.
(d) A watcher appointed under this chapter may not photograph a voter:
(1) while the voter is in the polls if the voter informs the precinct election board that the voter objects to being photographed by the watcher; or
(2) in a manner that permits the watcher to see or know for what ticket, candidates, or public questions the voter has voted.

http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title3/ar11/ch8.html

IC 3-11-8-16
Only voters permitted near entrance to the polls
Sec. 16. A person may not remain within a distance equal to the length of the chute (as defined in IC 3-5-2-10) of the entrance to the polls except for the purpose of offering to vote.

http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title3/ar11/ch11.html

IC 3-11-11-7
Standards to define a vote; voting procedure; marking; write-in votes
Sec. 7. (a) This section is enacted to comply with 42 U.S.C. 15481 by establishing uniform and nondiscriminatory standards to define what constitutes a vote on a paper ballot.
(b) After receiving ballots under section 6 of this chapter, a voter shall, without leaving the room, go alone into one (1) of the booths or compartments that is unoccupied and indicate:
(1) the candidates for whom the voter desires to vote by making a voting mark on or in the squares immediately before the candidates’ names; and
(2) the voter’s preference on each public question by making a voting mark in front of the word “yes” or “no” under the question.
(c) Write-in votes shall be cast by:
(1) making a voting mark on or in the square immediately before the space provided for write-in voting; and
(2) printing the name of the candidate in the space provided for write-in voting.

IC 3-11-11-8
One voter in booth; additional instruction to voter in booth
Sec. 8. (a) Only one (1) voter may occupy a booth or compartment at one time. Booths shall be constructed and arranged so that all members of the precinct election board can see whether more than one (1) voter enters a booth at any one time. However, a voter who is a parent, grandparent, or other person caring for a minor child may take the child into the voting booth.
(b) If a voter needs additional instruction after entering the voting booth, the voter may request assistance from the two (2) judges. The judges shall then approach but not enter the voting booth and call out additional instructions to the voter.

IC 3-11-11-9
Voting to be private; rights of voter in casting vote
Sec. 9. (a) A voter shall mark all ballots while screened from observation. The exterior of a voting booth or compartment and each area of the polls must be in plain view of the precinct election board. Each voting booth or compartment shall be placed so that a person voting on the opposite side of the railing or a person on the outside of the polls cannot see or determine how a voter votes. The inspector, judges, and poll clerks may not remain or allow any other person to remain in a position or near a position that would permit them to see or ascertain how a voter votes.
(b) As provided by 42 U.S.C. 15481, a voter casting a paper ballot under this section must be:
(1) permitted to verify in a private and independent manner the votes selected by the voter before the ballot is cast and counted;
(2) provided with the opportunity to change the ballot or correct any error in a private and independent manner before the ballot is cast and counted, including the opportunity to receive a replacement ballot if the voter is otherwise unable to change or correct the ballot; and
(3) notified before the ballot is cast regarding the effect of casting multiple votes for the office and provided an opportunity to correct the ballot before the ballot is cast and counted.
IC 3-11-11-16
Disclosure of ballot; record
Sec. 16. If a voter shows the voter’s ballot or a part of the ballot to another person after the ballot has been marked so as to disclose any of the candidates voted for or how the voter voted on a public question, the ballot may not be deposited in a ballot box. A record of the occurrence shall be made on the poll list, and the voter may not vote again at the election.

IC 3-11-11-17
Voter to leave polls after voting; requirement of voting or returning ballot; returning of pencil
Sec. 17. After voting, a voter shall leave the polls. However, a voter to whom ballots and a pencil have been delivered may not leave the polls without:
(1) voting the ballots or returning them to the poll clerk; and
(2) returning the pencil to the poll clerk from whom the voter received it.

The Indiana Code (IC 3-6-10-5) states that appointed “media watchers” may photograph the proceedings of a precinct election board. Media watchers must be appointed by a “newspaper of general circulation,” a news service (such as the AP), or a radio or television station. However, the media watchers may not photograph a voter if the voter objects or in a manner that would divulge how a voter cast his/her vote. The Indiana Code does not mention whether any other people may photograph election proceedings.

IC 3-11-8-16 states that only voters are permitted near the entrance to the polls. This may prevent a person with a film or video camera from positioning himself near the entrance in order to photograph or record voters entering and exiting the polling place.

IC 3-11-11-8 states that only one person may be in a voting booth at a time. IC 3-11-11-9 states that a “voter shall mark all ballots while screened from observation, and IC 3-11-11-16 states that a voter may not submit a ballot that has been disclosed to another person. Together, these provisions may prevent a person from photographing or recording someone else voting. They do not appear to affect the ability of a person to record himself/herself when voting.

I sent an email to the Indiana Election Commission and asked about these questions. Response from email:

Thank you for your message, which has been referred to Dale Simmons,
Co-General Counsel of the Election Division, for a response.

My initial response to one your questions below “Can you ask people
questions leaving the polling station and can you video their answers?”,
would be yes, provided that you did so outside the area where
unauthorized presence of persons is prohibited under IC 3-14-3-15. That
area would include the room where voting is taking place (“the polls”)
and the 50 feet area beyond the entrance to the polls (“the chute”).

Of course, this answer assumes that you have the permission of the
property owner to be present. Many polling locations are not located in
government facilities, but instead on rented private property. But if
you were standing in a public area (a sidewalk, a street, for example)
outside of the chute, then I think the answer would be yes. This type of
“exit polling” is not a common practice in Indiana, but sometimes does
occur. Thanks again,

Brad King
Co-Director
Indiana Election Division

Iowa

http://www.legis.state.ia.us/ElectionLaws/ElectionLaws.pdf

39A.4 Election misconduct in the third degree.
1. A person commits the crime of election misconduct in the third degree if
the person willfully commits any of the following acts:
a. Election day acts. Any of the following on election day:
(1) Loitering, congregating, electioneering, posting signs, treating voters, or
soliciting votes, during the receiving of the ballots, either on the premises of a
polling place or within three hundred feet of an outside door of a building
affording access to a room where the polls are held, or of an outside door of a
building affording access to a hallway, corridor, stairway, or other means of
reaching the room where the polls are held. This subparagraph does not apply to
the posting of signs on private property not a polling place, except that the
placement of a sign that is more than ninety square inches in size on a motor
vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer, or its attachment to a motor vehicle, trailer, or
semitrailer parked on public property within three hundred feet of a polling
place is prohibited.
(2) Interrupting, hindering, or opposing a voter while in or approaching the
polling place for the purpose of voting.
(3) As a voter, submitting a false statement as to the voter’s ability to mark a
ballot.
(4) Interfering or attempting to interfere with a voter when the voter is
inside the enclosed voting space, or when the voter is marking a ballot.
(5) Endeavoring to induce a voter to show how the voter marks or has
marked a ballot.
(6) Marking, or causing in any manner to be marked, on a ballot, any
character for the purpose of identifying such ballot.

49.84 Marking and return of ballot.
After receiving the ballot, the voter shall immediately go alone to one of the
voting booths, and without delay mark the ballot. All voters shall vote in booths.
No special lines shall be used to separate voters who state that they wish to vote
only a portion of the ballot.
Before leaving the voting booth, the voter shall fold the ballot or enclose it in
a secrecy folder to conceal the marks on the ballot. The voter shall deliver the
ballot to one of the precinct election officials. No identifying mark or symbol
shall be endorsed on the back of the voter’s ballot. If the precinct has a portable
vote tallying system which will not permit more than one ballot to be inserted at
a time, the voter may insert the ballot into the tabulating device; otherwise, the
election official shall place the ballot in the ballot box.
This section does not prohibit a voter from taking minor children into the
voting booth with the voter.
[C51, §257; R60, §492; C73, §617; C97, §1117, 1119; S13, §1119; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39,
§801; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, §49.84]
94 Acts, ch 1180, §16; 2002 Acts, ch 1134, §41, 115

49.88 Limitation on persons in booth and time for voting.
No more than one person shall be allowed to occupy any voting booth at any
time. No person shall occupy such booth for more than three minutes to cast a
vote. Nothing in this section shall prohibit assistance to voters under section
49.90.

Iowa Code 39A.4(1) makes it a crime for a person from “congregating . . . either on the premises of a polling place or within three hundred feet of an outside door of a building affording access to a room where the polls are held.” This may prevent a person with a film or video camera from positioning himself near the entrance in order to photograph or record voters entering and exiting the polling place.

Iowa Code 39A.4(5) makes it a crime to “induce a voter to show how the voter marks or has marked a ballot.” This provision may prevent a person from photographing or recording someone else voting. It does not appear to affect the ability of a person to record himself/herself when voting.
The Iowa Code does not include any references to the use of film cameras or video cameras at polling places.

Kansas
Can you photograph or video your vote inside the polling station–either a paper ballot or electronic screen?
No: Kansas law prohibits “disclosing or exposing the contents of any ballot or the manner in which the ballot has been voted.” Assuming that “contents of any ballot” would cover an unmarked ballot, it appears illegal to photograph a ballot even before it has been marked. KS ST 25-2422 (available at http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatute.do?number=13509).

Can you photograph or video yourself voting inside the polling station?
Probably: Although Kansas law prohibits “disorderly conduct” within the polling place, it is likely that you can photograph or videotape yourself in the process of voting. KS ST 25-2413 (available at http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatute.do?number=13499).

Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?
Probably: As long as you do not “interrupt, hinder or obstruct” other voters in the polling place, you should not be restricted from photographing or videotaping others voting or the working of the polling station from within. KS ST 25-2413 (available at http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatute.do?number=13499).

Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?
Yes: There does not appear to be any restriction on photography or videotaping a polling place from outside the actual building.

Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?
Yes: Without delving into rights of publicity, there doesn’t appear to be any restriction on photographing or videotaping people leaving the polling place.

Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station and can you video or blog their answers? Yes: There does not appear to be a restriction on interviewing people leaving the polling station.

Kentucky
While KRS 117.235(1) literally prohibits all persons other than voters and election officials from entering a voting place, First Amendment rights of the media to observe and report the election process must be given due consideration. Therefore, news media should be given access to voting places for the limited purpose of filming the electoral process, and county boards of elections are to designate those representatives of the news media who are to be allowed in each precinct for the purpose of observing the vote count. OAG 88-76.

Louisiana
A citizen acting as a poll watcher will be allowed to use a video camera within the polling facility.

LSA-R.S. 18:427 “Watchers”
A. Qualifications. A qualified voter who is not entitled to assistance in voting and is not a candidate in the election may serve as a watcher; provided that a watcher who is not a resident of the parish where he serves, may not serve as a commissioner.
B. Powers and duties. A watcher shall be admitted within all parts of the polling place during the election and the counting and tabulation of votes, and shall call any infraction of the law to the attention of the commissioners. A watcher may keep notes on the conduct of the election, but he shall not take part in the counting and tabulation of votes. A watcher shall not electioneer, engage in political discussions, or unnecessarily delay a voter at the polling place. A watcher shall be subject to the authority of the commissioners and shall not interfere with the commissioners in the performance of their duties.
C. Number of watchers inside a polling place. If the number of watchers inside a polling place is so great as to interfere with the orderly conduct of the election, the commissioners shall regulate the number of watchers inside the polling place for each precinct so that the election may be conducted in an orderly manner. The watchers shall draw lots under the supervision of the commissioners to determine which watchers shall be the first to wait outside the polling place, but the amount of time each watcher spends inside the polling place shall, as nearly as practicable, be equal.

A video camera may be used by a poll watcher at a polling precinct on election day, provided that this action does not in any way interfere, influence, or otherwise affect voters or the duties of the commissioner(s) assigned to the precinct. Op.Atty.Gen. No. 94-455, Oct. 18, 1994.

Mechanical devices may be allowed to be used by poll watchers and watchers may gather information to transmit outside of polling place, provided that such actions do not interfere with performance of commissioner’s duties; commissioner has duty of conducting election at polling places and shall, therefore, determine whether election process has been interrupted. Op.Atty.Gen., No. 90-599, Feb. 5, 1991.

Maryland
A citizen will need to get approval of the state or local board to enter a polling place for purposes other than voting. A 2002 article suggests that members of the media must contact the chief election judge at the polling place for permission to photograph it.

MD Code, Election Law, § 10-308
(a) An election judge shall allow the following individuals to have access to the voting room at a polling place:(1) a voter;(2) an individual who accompanies a voter in need of assistance in accordance with § 10-310(c) of this subtitle;(3) polling place staff;(4) a member or other representative of the State Board or local board;(5) an accredited watcher or challenger under § 10-311 of this subtitle;(6) an individual under the age of 13 who accompanies a voter in accordance with § 10-310(c) of this subtitle, provided that the individual is in the care of the voter and does not disrupt or interfere with normal voting procedures; and(7) any other individual authorized by the State Board or local board.

Maine
A citizen will need to contact his or her state or local board to determine the relevant rules.

Massachusetts
Can you photograph or video your vote inside the polling station–either a paper ballot or electronic screen?
Not after marked: A Massachusetts voter shall not “allow the marking of [his or her] ballot to be seen by any person for any purpose not authorized by law.” MA ST 56-25 (available at http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/56-25.htm).
Can you photograph or video yourself voting inside the polling station?
Probably: Although a voter is restricted from disclosing the contents of his or her marked ballot, photographing or videotaping the ballot before marking a vote, or the voting process generally does not appear to be restricted.

Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?
Probably: You may not “hinder, delay or interfere with” a voter, be disorderly, or restrict open and unobstructed access to the polling station, there does not appear to be a restriction on photographing or videotaping the working of a polling station. MA ST 56-29 (http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/56-29.htm), MA ST 56-46 (http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/56-46.htm), MA ST 54-71 (available at http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/54-71.htm).

Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?
Yes: There does not appear to be any restriction on photography or videotaping a polling place from outside the actual building.

Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?
Yes: Without delving into rights of publicity, there doesn’t appear to be any restriction on photographing or videotaping people leaving the polling place.

Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station and can you video or blog their answers?
Yes: There does not appear to be any restriction on interviewing voters as they leave a polling station.

Michigan
The Michigan Department of State has released an informational bulletin on the conduct of the November 7, 2006 general election, which is available at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Issue_40_177190_7.pdf. Page two of the bulletin states:

“To ensure that all voters who attend the polls on November 7 have a full opportunity to exercise their right to vote in private without undue distractions or discomfort, the following must be observed: The use of video cameras (including cell phone video cameras), cameras and recording devices by voters, challengers and poll watchers is prohibited in the polls during the hours the polls are open for voting.”

Furthermore, page one of the bulletin provides the following instructions for precinct boards:

“Inside each room where a polling place will be established, clearly mark off the ‘public area’ of the room. The ‘public area’ of the polling place must be clearly distinguishable from the ‘voting area’ of the room. All poll watchers and media representatives must remain in the ‘public area’ of the polling place at all times.”

As for representatives of the news media, the bulletin states on page two:

“Broadcast stations and news media representatives may be permitted to briefly film from the public area of the polling room. In no case can personnel working for broadcast stations or the news media set up a camera in the voting area of the polling room.”

According to page one of the bulletin, Michigan election law, MCL 168.678, extends precinct boards full authority “to maintain peace, regularity and order at the polling place ….” Precinct boards are extended such authority as voters have a right to vote a secret ballot in a secure, orderly environment which is free of distractions.

According to Steven Luck, an elections specialist with the Michigan Bureau of Elections, in a phone conversation on November 3, 2006, although voters who are not members of the news media are prohibited from taking photographs or videorecordings inside the polling station, once outside, they are authorized to do so as long as they do not cause disruptions or distractions.

Minnesota
Minnesota election law does not address the issue of taking photographs or videorecordings in or near polling places by individuals who are not news media.The following provision concerns access for news media:

“A news media representative may enter a polling place during voting hours only to observe the voting process. A media representative must present photo identification to the head election judge upon arrival at the polling place, along with either a recognized media credential or written statement from a local election official attesting to the media representative’s credentials. A media representative must not:

(1) approach within six feet of a voter;
(2) converse with a voter while in the polling place;
(3) make a list of persons voting or not voting; or
(4) interfere with the voting process.

Minn. Stat. 204C.06 Subd. 8.The following provision applies to the conduct of voters in and near polling places:
“An individual shall be allowed to go to and from the polling place for the purpose of voting without unlawful interference. No one except an election official or an individual who is waiting to register or to vote shall stand within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place. The entrance to a polling place is the doorway or point of entry leading into the room or area where voting is occurring.” (Minn. Stat. 204C.06 subd. 1).Furthermore, “an individual may remain inside the polling place during voting hours only while voting or registering to vote, providing proof of residence for an individual who is registering to vote, or assisting a handicapped voter or a voter who is unable to read English. During voting hours no one except individuals receiving, marking, or depositing ballots shall approach within six feet of a voting booth, unless lawfully authorized to do so by an election judge.” (Minn. Stat. 204C.06 subd. 2).

Since taking photos or videorecording is not one of the enumerated activities for which “an individual may remain inside the polling place,” such activities may well be prohibited by this statute.
Minnesota election law does not address the issue of taking photographs or videorecordings in or near polling places.
Mississippi
According to Willy Allen of the Elections Division, Office of the Mississippi Secretary of State, in a phone conversation on November 3, 2006, no photographs or audio or video recordings may be taken inside the polling stations, in order to uphold the integrity of the voting process. Mr. Allen cited concerns about people selling their vote, and noted that photographs or videorecordings could be used as evidence of how a person voted. Mr. Allen also referred to a 1994 Memo issued from the U.S. Justice Departmentto to the Mississippi Elections Division, which had responded to a question from said Division about taking photographs in and around polling stations. According to Mr. Allen, the Memo stated that taking photographs was prohibited within polling stations, out of concerns over voter intimidation. Mr. Allen noted that DOJ re-issued the memo to the Mississippi Elections Division last week, reaffirming DOJ’s position on this issue.The following provision concerns voter conduct in and about polling places.

“A space thirty (30) feet in every direction from the polls, or the room in which the election is held, shall be kept open and clear of all persons except the election officers and two (2) challengers of good conduct and behavior, selected by each party to detect and challenge illegal voters; and the electors shall approach the polls from one direction, line, door or passage, and depart in another as nearly opposite as convenient.”
Miss. Code Ann 23-15-245

Missouri
Missouri election law does not address the issue of taking photographs or videorecordings in or near polling places, it merely stipulates that each voter shall vote without undue delay. (115.441 R.S.Mo.)

Missouri state statute classifies as an election offence “[e]xit polling, surveying, [and] sampling.” It is unclear whether “surveying” includes the act of taking photographs or videorecordings by individual voters. (115.637 subd. 18 R.S.Mo.)

As for members of the news media, the Missouri statue explicitly grants access to polling places to “members of the news media who present identification satisfactory to the election judges and who are present only for the purpose of bona fide news coverage . . . provided that such coverage does not disclose how any voter cast the voter’s ballot on any question or candidate or in the case of a primary election on which party ballot they voted or does not interfere with the general conduct of the election as determined by the election judges or election authority.” (115.409 R.S.Mo.)

Montana
Can you photograph or video your vote inside the polling station–either a paper ballot or electronic screen?
Not after marked: A Montana voter “may not show the contents of [his or her] ballot to anyone after it is marked.” MT ST 13-35-201
(available at http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/MCA/13/35/13-35-201.htm). Photographing or videotaping an unmarked ballot does not appear to be restricted.

Can you photograph or video yourself voting inside the polling station?
Probably: Although a voter is restricted from disclosing the contents of his or her marked ballot, photographing or videotaping the ballot before marking a vote, or the voting process generally does not appear to be restricted.

Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?

Maybe: You may not photograph or video any voters marked ballot, but there does not appear to be any restriction on photographing or videotaping other voters within the polling place itself. Election officials in Montana restrict media access to the actual polling place, but you should be able to photograph or video the operation of the polling place while you are voting yourself. If your actions are seen as disruptive, however, election officials may ask you to stop. To be safe, you should consult the chief election judge about how best to record your voting experience while minimizing disruption. See MT ST 13-35-203 (available at
http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/MCA/13/35/13-35-203.htm), MT ST 13-35-218 (available at http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/MCA/13/35/13-35-218.htm).

Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?
There does not appear to be any restriction on photography or videotaping a polling place from outside the actual building.

Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?
Without delving into rights of publicity, there doesn’t appear to be any restriction on photographing or videotaping people leaving the polling place.

Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station and can you video or blog their answers?
Questions about votes must be outside: Montana does not allow asking anyone “within a polling place or any building in which an election is being held” about how they voted or plan to vote. MT ST 13-35-211(3) (available at http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/MCA/13/35/13-35-211.htm). Additionally, the Montana secretary of state has restricted media access to the actual polling room. It is likely that once you have completed voting, you will be required to leave the polling room, but questions unrelated to votes for/against a particular candidate or initiative should be permissible there.

Nebraska
Can you photograph or video your vote inside the polling station–either a paper ballot or electronic screen?
Not after marked: A Nebraska voter shall not “show his or her ballot after it is marked to any person…” NE ST 32-1527(4). Photographing or videotaping an unmarked ballot does not appear to be
restricted.

Can you photograph or video yourself voting inside the polling station?
Probably: Although a voter is restricted from disclosing the contents of his or her marked ballot, photographing or videotaping the ballot before marking a vote, or the voting process generally does not appear to be restricted.

Can you photograph or video others voting or the working of the polling station from within it?
Probably: You may not obstruct passageways, doors or entryways, and only voters “engaged in receiving, preparing, or marking a ballot” are allowed within 8 feet of voting booths or the ballot box, but otherwise there does not appear to be a restriction on photography or videotaping within the polling place (apart from interviewing restrictions described below). See, NE ST 32-910, NE ST 32-925, NE ST 32-1523.

Can you photograph or video the polling station from outside it?
Yes: There does not appear to be any restriction on photography or videotaping a polling place from outside the actual building.

Can you photograph or video people leaving the voting station?
Yes: Without delving into rights of publicity, there doesn’t appear to be any restriction on photographing or videotaping people leaving the polling place.

Can you ask people questions leaving the polling station and can you video or blog their answers? 20ft from polling place or 100ft from voting booth: Interviews may not occur “within twenty feet of the entrance of any polling place or, if inside the polling place or building, within one hundred feet of any voting booth.” NE ST 32-1525.

Nevada
Nevada election law permits members of the general public to observe the conduct of voting at polling places, but explicitly prohibits members of the general public from taking photographs (or recording by means of sound or video reproduction) the conduct of voting at polling places. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 293.274).The statute states:

1. The county clerk shall allow members of the general public to observe the conduct of voting at a polling place.
2. A member of the general public shall not photograph the conduct of voting at a polling place or record the conduct of voting on audiotape or any other means of sound or video reproduction.
3. For the purposes of this section, a member of the general public does not include any person who:
 (a) Gathers information for communication to the public;
 (b) Is employed or engaged by or has contracted with a newspaper, periodical, press association, or radio or television station; and
 (c) Is acting solely within his professional capacity.
(Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 293.274)

There is some ambiguity in the case of registered voters who, in the process of voting, wish to take photographs or other recordings for the purpose of publicly posting to their personal blogs. The ambiguity turns on whether such a voter-blogger should be considered a “member of the general public,” and hence prohibited from taking photographs or other recordings under this section, or whether such a person is simply “gather[ing] information for communication to the public,” and hence not prohibited under this particular section of the statute.

However, voter-bloggers may be prohibited from photographing or recording under Nev. Rev. Stat. 293.247, which gives the Secretary of State of Nevada the authority to adopt regulations for the conduct of elections throughout the state.As of November 1, 2006, it is no longer unlawful for a “person to speak to a voter on the subject of marking their ballot ‘. . . within 100 feet from the entrance to the building or other structure in which a polling place is located.’” ABC v. Heller, 2:06-CV-01268-PMP-RJJ (D. Nev. 2006). ABC v. Heller granted a preliminary injunction to a news-gathering agency that sought to conduct exit polls of voters leaving polling places in the State of Nevada within the 100-foot barrier formerly imposed under Nev. Rev. Stat. 293.740(1)(a) at the forthcoming general election on November 7, 2006.Nev. Rev. Stat. 293.740(1)(a), which is no longer good law, states:
[I]t is unlawful inside a polling place or within 100 feet from the entrance to the building or other structure in which a polling place is located:
 (a) For any person to solicit a vote or speak to a voter on the subject of marking his ballot.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire law prohibits people from interfering with or intimidating voters at a polling place or doing anything that would reveal someone’s marked ballot. This means you cannot take pictures of your ballot or anyone else’s ballot, or videotape yourself or anyone else in the process of casting a vote. Aside from these restrictions, you cannot take pictures, videotape, or interview voters in any way that would be perceived as interfering with or intimidating voters. Much of this is a judgment call left to county boards of election, so the specific restrictions at a polling place will vary from county to county.

New Jersey
New Jersey law prohibits more than one person from entering a polling booth, or for anybody to reveal their marked ballot to another person. These prohibitions mean that you cannot film or photograph another person as he is marking his ballot in the voting booth, and you cannot film or photograph your own marked ballot. New Jersey also prohibits any loitering, interference, electioneering, or solicitation of any voters. This means any photography or filming that occurs within the polling place can be stopped if it is judged to violate any of these restrictions. Each county board of election makes its own regulations, which will vary from county to county. For instance, Essex County prohibits all photography and videotaping completely, even for the media, but will allow exit polling by credentialed groups.

New Mexico
New Mexico law generally prohibits those who are not voting from approaching the polling place within 50 feet, from willfully blocking the entrance to a polling place, or from disrupting or interfering with the conduct of the election. The media is allowed inside a polling place to photograph and film, as long as those actions do not interfere with voting or indicate how a voter is voting. Specific guidelines for who constitutes the media and what non-media individuals are allowed to do are made on a county by county basis, so you should contact your county clerk for details.

New York
New York law prohibits voting booths from being occupied by more than one person. It also prohibits voters from memorializing anything that occurs within the booth and prohibits voters from showing or asking others to show them the contents of a marked ballot. Under these laws, no photography or video recording can occur within the voting booth. Outside of the voting booth but within the polling place, what activities are allowed will vary from county to county. In some counties, the media is allowed access in order to film, photograph, or conduct exit polls. For this media access, you must fax in a letter of interest with your contact info to get an exit letter, which will give access to a polling site to non-voters. Check with your county to find out what qualifies you as media and what non-media are allowed to do within a polling place.

North Carolina
The North Carolina law bearing any relation to photographing or videoing around polling places is titled “Limitation on activity in the voting place and in a buffer zone around it.”

N.C.G.S.A. § 163-166.4. This law makes unlawful activities that “hinder access, harass others, distribute campaign literature, place political advertising, solicit votes, or otherwise engage in electionrelated activity in the voting place or in a buffer zone which shall be prescribed by the county board of elections around the voting place.” This law does not explicitly mention filming or photography, and these activities may be lawful so long as they are not done in a harassing manner.However, North Carolina may be particularly in flux regarding the issue of observing people at polling places. In 1998, the North Carolina Attorney General issued an advisory opinion that polling place observers appointed by political parties should not use video cameras. 1998 N.C. AG LEXIS 43, October 22, 1998.

This same opinion noted that use of video cameras by the news media was appropriate. However, this opinion was issued 8 years ago, and relies in part on statutes that are no longer law (§§ 163-135 through 163-159, labeled “General Instructions,” were repealed in 2002).According to Sec. 4.1 of the Raleigh municipal code (http://www.municode.com/Resources/gateway.asp?pid=10312&sid=33), they follow the North Carolina state voting laws with only one except relating to campaign expense regulation.

North Dakota
The relevant section of North Dakota law (http://www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/t161c04.pdf) only prohibits commercial activity at polling places. ND ST 16.1-10-06.2. This law disallows approaching people entering or inside a polling place for the purposes of “of selling, soliciting for sale, advertising for sale, or distributing any merchandise, product, literature, or service.”

Ohio
Ohio’s Revised Code has a few restrictions on activity at polling places. R.C. § 3501.35. Specifically, “no person” should:
(1) Loiter, congregate, or engage in any kind of election campaigning within the area between the polling place and the small flags of the United States placed on the thoroughfares and walkways leading to the polling place, and if the line of electors waiting to vote extends beyond those small flags, within ten feet of any elector in that line; (2) In any manner hinder or delay a [voter] in reaching or leaving the place fixed for casting the elector’s ballot; (5) Solicit or in any manner attempt to influence any [voter] in casting the [voter]’s vote. (B) Except as otherwise provided in division (C) of section 3503.23 of the Revised Code, no person who is not an election official, employee, observer, or police officer shall be allowed to enter the polling place during the election, except for the purpose of voting or assisting another person to vote as provided in section 3505.24 of the Revised Code. (C) No more [voters] shall be allowed to approach the voting shelves at any time than there are voting shelves provided.”

These prohibitions do not explicitly extend to filming or photography, and these activities may be lawful so long as they are not done in a harassing manner that does not appear to coerce voters or hinder their physical access to the polling place. Note that members of the press probably do not have to abide by these restrictions. See Beacon Journal Publishing Co., Inc. v. Blackwell, 389 F.3d 683 (6th Cir. 2004)(allowing injunction preventing enforcement of R.C. § 3501.35 against “members of the press.”) Whether citizen journalists such as bloggers must abide by these rules is not clear.The Columbus city code (http://www.ordlink.com/codes/columbus/maintoc.htm) does not add to these prohibitions.

Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s state code allows “reporters and photographers” access to the interior of polling places for up to five minutes. 26 Okl.St.Ann. § 7-112 (http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=78549). This access cannot “interfere with voters or election officials” and reporters and photographers cannot observe or photograph the actual marking of ballots.Oklahama also prohibits “electioneering” within 300 feet of a ballot box, and no person can within 50 feet of a ballot box. 26 Okl.St.Ann. § 7-108 (http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=78549).

This prohibition extends to print material, none of which can be “publicly placed or exposed within three hundred (300) feet of any ballot box, while an election is in progress.” 26 Okl.St.Ann. § 7-108 (http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=78549).

Oklahoma also allows misdemeanor criminal sanctions against any pollster who is within 50 feet of a ballot box while an election is in progress. 26 Okl.St.Ann. § 7-108.3 (http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=439348).Nothing in Oklahoma City’s Municipal Code adds to these laws. (http://www.municode.com/Resources/gateway.asp?pid=19994&sid=36).

Oregon
Laws
1. Or. Rev. Stat. § 260.695 (2006) governs “Prohibitions relating to voting in elections conducted by mail or at polling place.” This statute provides a long list of things you can’t do. It generally prohibits interference with voting at a polling place or improper influence of a voter there. For example, you cannot

- “examine or attempt to examine [another] person’s ballot,” subsection (8)
- “obstruct an entrance of a building in which a polling place is located,” subsection (2)
- “remove a ballot from any polling place,” subsection (15)
- In addition, “No person shall show the person’s own marked or punched ballot to another person to reveal how it was marked or punched.” subsection (9)

These rules apparently apply to absentee voting as well as at a polling place. The statute does not explicitly mention, or ban, photography at a polling place.

2. Or. Rev. Stat. §260.715 (2006) governs “Prohibitions relating to voting and ballots.” None of them involve photographing a ballot.

3. Salem Revised Code, Title I (Government), Chapter 11 (Elections) lists a number of “unlawful acts” that relate to fraud. Nothing related to photography.

Observations
Overall, the Oregon state and local statutes do not explicit prohibit photography, for the reason that it does not seem to be contemplated. It might technically not be illegal for a blogger to take a picture inside his polling place with his cameraphone, or to take a picture of her unpunched ballot, as long as she does not disrupt the polling.

The main risk, under this legal framework, seems to where if the photography or video recording disrupts polling, captures confidential voter choices, or displays one’s own voter choices. What attitude the Oregon pollworkers and government workers will take towards those with cameras could be another issue entirely.

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has no explicit rules on photography, but there are strict rules about what you can do and how long you can stay in the voting booth. The Pennsylvania statutes are incredibly detailed and mundane, and govern the smallest details of how the electoral process shall be carried out.

25 Penn. Stat. § 3057. Time allowed elector in voting booth or voting machine compartment

No elector shall remain in a voting compartment or voting machine booth an unreasonable length of time, and, in no event, for more than three minutes, and if he shall refuse to leave after said period, he shall be removed by the election officers: Provided, however, That they may grant him a longer time if other electors are not waiting to vote.

25 Penn. Stat. § 3060 lays out “Regulations in force at polling places.” These are mostly your run-of-the-mill regulations (no soliciting votes, no flyers posted up in the polling place..). No explicit prohibition of cameras. The most applicable subsections are as follows:

Subsection (a): You are only allowed in the polling place outside of the “enclosed space” at any primary or election unless you a voter awaiting your turn to vote – and not more than ten voters at a time [or you are a "watcher" or a police officer, but that's irrelevant].

Subsection (d): You have to remain 10 feet distant from the polling place unless you are a “person in the course of voting” or are helping run the thing. (“All persons, except election officers, clerks, machine inspectors, overseers, watchers, persons in the course of voting, persons lawfully giving assistance to voters, and peace and police officers, when permitted by the provisions of this act, must remain at least ten (10) feet distant from the polling place during the progress of the voting.”)

Subsection (f): Whoever is in charge of the voting (“the judge of the election”) may call upon any constable, deputy constable, police officer or other peace officer to aid him in the performance of his duties under this section.

25 Penn. Stat. § 2602, Definitions uses “elector” is a synonym for “voter.” §2602 explains that “watcher” has a very narrow and specific definition and does not mean any media observer. (“Each candidate for nomination or election at any election shall be entitled to appoint two watchers for each election district in which such candidate is voted for.”) §3054 indicates that the “enclosed space” is roughly the inside of the polling place, containing the voting compartments or voting machines.

Rhode Island
Rhode Island has switched over to optical scan voting machines, and have measures in place to make sure there’s no fraud.

§ 17-19-21. Arrangement of polling places–Election officials–Police officers. “(b). One bipartisan pair of supervisors, the clerk, and the warden shall be stationed, in that order, along the guard rail so that a voter desiring to cast a ballot will pass first in front of the bipartisan pair, then in front of the clerk, and finally in front of the warden. A second bipartisan pair shall be stationed within the guard rail and shall be available to relieve the first bipartisan pair or the clerk, and to assist voters within the limits prescribed by this title. The second bipartisan pair, when not engaged in the preceding duties, shall watch the voters in and about the voting equipment and shall call to the attention of the warden any violation, or circumstance suggesting a violation, of the provisions of this title.”

Suggests that they want people to be watching you vote at all times. Might not be easy, practically, to take a picture.
§ 17-19-23. Wardens and supervisors–Powers and duties. “The wardens shall: …(9) Cause to be removed or arrested any person or official who commits a violation of the election law in their presence or disturbs the conduct of the voting; provided, that they shall not cause any removal or arrest without the approval of the election inspector, unless the clerk agrees with the wardens that the person or official should be arrested or removed”

Nothing on point about cameras.

South Carolina
Code of Laws of South Carolina 1976 § 7-13-130, § 7-13-740, § 7-13-760 provide for mundane details such as the dimensions of a voting booth and the materials with which they are constructed — not useful. Only concern seems to be that a voter be alone in the booth and not talk to anyone else while he/she is inside.

City codes available on link from <http://www.columbiasc.net/?pageid=13>http://www.columbiasc.net/?pageid=13 (on municode.com). They do not regulate conduct at the polls.

Tennessee
The Tennessee Election Code can be found in Title 2 of the Tennessee Code. Interestingly, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-103 explicitly says that “(a) No person may be admitted to a polling place while the procedures required by this chapter are being carried out except election officials, voters, persons properly assisting voters, the press, poll watchers appointed under § 2-7-104 and others bearing written authorization from the county election commission.” So I guess the answer to our questions really comes back to the questions of whether bloggers are “the press” or not.

Texas
The Texas elections code (which can be browsed at <http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/el.toc.htm>http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/el.toc.htm ) has nothing directly on point prohibiting the use of recording equipment by voters. But section 33.051(c) of that code does prevent election “watchers” from using any equipment to record sounds or images at the polling place. A watcher is defined as “a person appointed under this subchapter to observe the conduct of an election on behalf of a candidate, a political party, or the proponents or opponents of a measure.” In general, watchers are allowed to “be present at the voting station when a voter is being assisted by an election officer, and the watcher is entitled to examine the ballot before it is deposited in the ballot box to determine whether it is prepared in accordance with the voter’s wishes.” (section 33.057). Watchers are not allowed to “(1) converse with an election officer regarding the election, except to call attention to an irregularity or violation of law; (2) converse with a voter; or (3) communicate in any manner with a voter regarding the election.” (section 33.058). I am not sure how the rights and prohibitions of these watchers may interact with what our bloggers may want to do.

While I can’t say if bloggers can photograph their own experience, it looks like they can’t stick around and video/photo and interview others inside the polling places. Section 61.001(a) of the Election Code makes it a Class C misdemeanor to be a “bystander” that is actually inside the polling place. More seriously, § 61.006 says it is a felony of the following occurs “(a) A person commits an offense if the person was in a polling place for any purpose other than voting and knowingly communicates to another person information that the person obtained at the polling place about how a voter has voted.” This sounds like you can’t ask people how they voted and blog about it if you interviewed them inside. Also, you can’t “loiter” within 100 feet of the polling place.

Actually, all the Texas stuff is summarized pretty aptly by the following web site. It basically concludes that “The bright line rule seems to be no reporter or photographer in the”polling place, arguably the area defined by the registration desk, the voting booths, and the ballot box. Outside of that, photographers can take pictures from outside into the polling area so long as it does not reveal someone else’s vote or indicates to a voter in the polling place how to vote (Texas Election Code Section 61.008), and interviews just outside the polling place that do not involve electioneering are probably okay as well.”

Utah
The Utah Election Code can be found in Title 20 A of the Utah code (can be searched here). It has nothing on point, but Utah Code Ann. § 20A-3-501 says “(2) (a) A person may not, within a polling place or in any public area within 150 feet of the building where a polling place is located:
(i) do any electioneering;
(ii) circulate cards or handbills of any kind;
(iii) solicit signatures to any kind of petition; or
(iv) engage in any practice that interferes with the freedom of voters to vote or disrupts the administration of the polling place.”
So as far as interviews go, bloggers might want to keep their interviews 150 feet away, especially since the same section of the law goes on to say that no municipality can prevent you from electioneering or the like if you’re more than 150 feet away. But as far as recording your own experience, nothing at all seems to be on point.

Wisconsin
No. (per Nov. 2 telephone conversation with representative from the Wisconsin election commission – there is no formal legislation about this and therefore is a decision made by the election board.)

Wyoming
No. (per telephone conversation on November 2 with Debbie Latrop of the elections commission of Wyoming – the decision is made by the board and their decision making authority over this issue is governed by the statute regarding “disturbing the polling place” WY Code 22-15-109(c)).

Vermont
Vermont election law does not address the issue of photography or videography in polling places. However, the “Media Guide to Vermont Elections” on the website of the Vermont Secretary of State makes the following statement:

“Every stage of the election process in Vermont is public. The media and the public have the right to be present and observe the election; however the presiding officer can set rules for administration of the election as provided by VT election law.”

Given the scarcity of information on media involvement in the election law, it is unclear what kind of restrictions the presiding officer would be authorized to make. It is similarly unclear whether “the right to be present and observe the election” includes a right to take photographs.The “Media Guide” also notes that “Pictures should not be taken of voters putting ballots into the ballot box (voters are guaranteed privacy of their votes).” Read literally, this might bar a voter from photographing her or his own ballot. However, it seems that the stated purpose of the regulation—to guarantee voter privacy—would not be applicable when photographing one’s own ballot.Finally, in regards to exit polling and interviewing, the “Media Guide” provides that “Exit polls must be taken outside the polling place.”http://vermont-elections.org/elections1/2006MediaGuidetoElections90406.pdf

Virginia
Va. Code § 24.2-604(J): “The officers of election shall permit representatives of the news media to visit and film or photograph inside the polling place for a reasonable and limited period of time while the polls are open. However, the media (i) shall comply with the restrictions in subsections A and D of this section; (ii) shall not film or photograph any person who specifically asks the media representative at that time that he not be filmed or photographed; (iii) shall not film or photograph the voter or the ballot in such a way that divulges how any individual voter is voting; and (iv) shall not film or photograph the voter list or any other voter record or material at the precinct in such a way that it divulges the name or other information concerning any individual voter. Any interviews with voters, candidates or other persons, live broadcasts, or taping of reporters’ remarks, shall be conducted outside of the polling place and the prohibited area. The officers of election may require any person who is found by a majority of the officers present to be in violation of this subsection to leave the polling place and the prohibited area.”

Virginia’s election laws allows the media to access the polling place for reporting purposes. It is unclear from the law whether bloggers would qualify as “representatives of the news media”Taken literally, section (iii) would prevent a voter from taking a photograph of her or his own ballot, because doing so would “divulge[] how any individual voter is voting.” However, seeing as the apparent purpose of the law is to protect voter privacy, it seems unlikely that it would be applied to people who choose to reveal their own individual votes.Interviews and exit polls must be conducted outside of the polling place and the “prohibited area,” which under Va. Code § 24.2-604(A) is within “40 feet of any entrance of any polling place.”

Washington
Neither the Washington election laws nor the state’s election website provide any information about media access to the polling place. My attempts to get answers from state officials were unsuccessful.

West Virginia
West Virginia election law forbids anyone except for election officers or voters from coming within 300 feet of the polling place:

“Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person, other than the election officers and voters going to the election room to vote and returning therefrom, may be or remain within three hundred feet of the outside entrance to the building housing the polling place while the polls are open.” W. Va. Code, § 3-1-37(a)

Thus any interviews or exit polls would need to be conducted outside of that range.Neither the statute nor the state’s website have anything to say about photography in the polling place, but W. Va. Code, § 3-1-37(d) limits voting time to five minutes, so all photography should be done quickly.

36 Comments on “State Laws Vary on Polling Place Photography”

  1. #1 Center for Citizen Media: Blog » Blog Archive » Election Day Law FAQ
    on Nov 6th, 2006 at 8:21 pm

    [...] « What’s Up with Voterstory.org? State Laws Vary on Polling Place Photography » [...]

  2. #2 howardowens.com: media blog » Blog Archive » Citizen media guidelines for election day
    on Nov 6th, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    [...] The Center for Citizen Media has a wealth of useful legal information for citizen journalists planning to document election day. [...]

  3. #3 Justin
    on Nov 6th, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    What happened to Nebraska? I know it’s not an exciting state… but c’mon!

  4. #4 Geoff Arnold
    on Nov 6th, 2006 at 10:32 pm

    This claims to be a 50-state guide, but several states are missing – Massachusetts and South Carolina leaped out, and I imagine there are more. So what’s going on? Somebody unable to count to 50?

  5. #5 Captured Shadow
    on Nov 6th, 2006 at 11:10 pm

    Oregon doesn’t have polling places anymore – it is 100% vote by mail, but maybe somebody else already pointed that out. I would think it is legal to document your vote, with a photo, but apparently it is not, since that would ruin the confidentiality of elections.

  6. #6 Uncle Sam
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 12:09 am

    Massachusetts is not included in your list of “all 50 states’.

  7. #7 A call to citizen journalists | Bang the Drum
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 1:26 am

    [...] Hijinks abound already, including vote flipping on e-voting machines. Update: Stanford Law School’s state-to-state guide for photographing polling places (in case you’re documenting) [...]

  8. #8 Peter Tripp
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 3:08 am

    >”So the students compiled a 50-state guide”

    50 States? Looks like you missed 5 (6 if you include DC). The following are missing:
    Kansas
    Massachusetts
    Montana
    Nebraska
    South Dakota
    Washington DC

    Mississippi is also formatted wrong (embeded line breaks instead of closing p tag in html.) And also has a copy/paste error as the second word under Mississippi is incorrectly “Minnesota [...]”

    I’ll see if I can dig up some info on those missing states.

  9. #9 Peter Tripp
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 3:25 am

    Maryland is missing some very revelant info (the whole point perhaps):
    COMAR 33.07.04.02:
    33.07.04.02. 02 Cell Phones, Pagers, Cameras, etc.. A. In General. Except as specified in §B of this regulation, the following devices may not be used in a polling place:1) Cameras;. 2) Any audible electronic devices, including:. a) Cellular telephones; and. b) Pagers; or. 3) Computer equipment.. B. Exceptions. This regulation does not apply to the use of:. 1) Cameras by media representatives; or. 2) Cellular telephones, pagers, or computer equipment by election officials

  10. #10 anon
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 4:00 am

    Hey, where’s Massachusetts???

  11. #11 Peter Tripp
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 4:38 am

    Massachusetts

    The only thing I could stumble across relevant to recording equipment was the follwing:
    MGL Title VIII; Chapter 54: Section 76. Voting; giving name and address upon request; delivery of ballot:

    Section 76. Each voter desiring to vote at a polling place shall give his name and, if requested, his residence to one of the officers at the entrance to the space within the guard rail, who shall thereupon distinctly announce the same. If such name is found on the voting list, the election officer shall check and repeat the name and shall admit the voter to the space enclosed by the guard rail and, in case official ballots, other than those marked “Challenged Ballots” as provided by section thirty-five A, are used, such voter shall be given one ballot. The use of electronic means such as tape recording equipment or radio broadcasting equipment for the recording or broadcasting of the names of voters not yet checked as having voted shall be prohibited.

    As I read this, one cannot reproduce (video, photography or any electronic reproduction) the actual voter rolls as your being checked in (it’d be pretty easy to photograph, someone with sharp eyes could easily catch whether close names had voted yet). But other than that, I don’t see any prohibitions on the rest of the process
    —–

    South Dakota
    Recording equipment doesn’t seem to be sepecificaly mentioned, but I think could be partially restricted under this provision:
    SD Statute 12-18-27:

    12-18-27. Marked ballot not to be shown–Folding for deposit in ballot box. No person may show a ballot after it is marked to any person in such a way as to reveal the contents of the ballot, or the name of any candidate for whom the person has marked a vote. Nor may any person solicit the voter to show the voter’s ballot. Immediately after marking the ballot the voter shall fold and refold the ballot, if necessary, leaving the official stamp exposed.

    As I read the last paragraph, techincally this does not allow one to take a picture of one’s own marked ballot. Unmarked and polling station, no mention, marked, explicitly prohibited.
    —–
    I read through Kansas election law, but couldn’t find anything relevant.
    —–
    Someone else can take a crack at the others

  12. #12 steve garfield
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 4:46 am

    How about Massachusetts?

  13. #13 Design For Democracy’s Polling Place Photo Project - 24StGeorge.com
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 5:22 am

    [...] The Polling Place Photo Project encourages voters to photograph their polling places to discourage voter fraud and vote tampering. It empowers voters to document democracy in action. On Tuesday, when you go to the polls, bring your camera and help foster democracy at the most grass-roots level. But check your local laws before snapping away. The project is part of Design for Democracy, an initiative of AIGA, the professional association for design. No Comments Leave a Commenttrackback addressThere was an error with your comment, please try again. name (required)email (will not be published) (required)url [...]

  14. #14 Dan Gillmor
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 5:28 am

    Apologies for missing states, and thanks for the info supplied in comments. I’m hoping that the Stanford folks will be able to get them to me today.

  15. #15 ~bc
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 6:11 am

    Massachusetts: I photographed my polling place this morning without incident. There was a police officer outside who didn’t even flinch. Of course, this isn’t legal advice, but they didn’t stop me. I didn’t attempt to take pictures inside, though.

  16. #16 Mithras
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 7:21 am

    Thanks for this info.

    The South Carolina information appears out of order, before the Rhode Island information, and the state name is not bolded.

  17. #17 Uncle Sam
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 8:06 am

    Massachusetts

    Peter Trip wrote: The use of electronic means such as tape recording equipment or radio broadcasting equipment for the recording or broadcasting of the names of voters not yet checked as having voted shall be prohibited.

    Campaign and/or “get out the vote” workers are allowed (have been, so far) to take notes from time to time of those registered voters who have not yet voted. Campaign workers then pass these names on to phone bank workers (usually volunteers) who attempt to call the registered voter to remind them to vote (often with a plug for their candidate of choice).

    Copies of registered voters are readily available to the public (sometimes called a “True List” — which makes it fairly easy to quickly view and compare the list of those who have voted and mark those who haven’t on one’s own list.

    My anecdotal understanding is that such comparisons may only be done when doing so will not interfere with registered voters in the process of checking in (or out) with the election workers. The rule of the Assistant or Deputy Registrar at the polling location is absolute. Nonetheless, my experience is that these updates on who hasn’t voted are made many times during the day and early evening.

  18. #18 Akkam’s Razor
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 8:38 am

    [...] If you are going to participate in VideotheVote.org or the Polling Place Photo Project, it'd be a good idea to check what the state laws are regarding photo-place photography (via BoingBoing). Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  19. #19 VOTE! at A New Wave of Thinking
    on Nov 7th, 2006 at 10:13 am

    [...] Also, if can take photos (or video) at the polls, as Josh Hallett is doing for the AIGA Polling Place Photo Project, read this post on state laws regulating polling place photography. [...]

  20. #20 Next Year’s election « Photography on Tap
    on Nov 9th, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    [...] Laws by State for all of you citizen photojournalists looking to shoot your polling place next year. [...]

  21. #21 Sexerati: Smart Sex. » Blog Archive » Election Day Postgame: Vote Your Local Leatherman and Escort
    on Nov 11th, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    [...] I’m not sure I was actually breaking the law by taking this photo at the polling station, but as the count is in, why not? It’s not every day one gets to cast one’s ballot for an out supporter of the Leatherman’s community. Who won with 87% of the vote in his race for State Assembly. (Unlike self-identified escort/stripper Starchild, who is still yet to concede his run for San Francisco Board of Supervisors.) [...]

  22. #22 Spark Minute » Blog Archive » CNN covers robocall Republicans. Hacking Democracy on Google Video. Can I photograph my polling place?
    on Apr 11th, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    [...] all this controversy, you’re probably asking yourself, “Can I photograph my polling place?” Well, it varies state by state. But in California you’re not allowed to photograph or [...]

  23. #23 Urban Compass | Blog Archive | Election Day: No Donuts for You
    on May 1st, 2007 at 9:50 am

    [...] By the way, did you know that state laws vary on polling place photography? [...]

  24. #24 » Law students offer Election Day tips for bloggers | Education IT | ZDNet.com
    on May 17th, 2007 at 8:30 am

    [...] report on state law affectng bloggers offers some legal perspective on such questions [...]

  25. #25 essblog 2 » Blog Archive » Election Day Links
    on Jun 2nd, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    [...] to vote? Here’s the city’s poll finder! Don’t use Diebold! Request paper ballots. Compiled laws about voting places by state including journalistic freedoms Diebold machines causing problems at polling [...]

  26. #26 PBS, YouTube, Others Team for "Video Your Vote" | Student Tech News
    on Oct 15th, 2008 at 9:13 am

    [...] video equipment are not allowed at polling places in some states. You need to check; here’s one place you could look, as supplied by GroundReport, though it is dated [...]

  27. #27 Adrienne
    on Oct 15th, 2008 at 9:25 am

    You didn’t include the District of Columbia’s voting laws.

  28. #28 Wayne
    on Oct 15th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Texas info is incorrect!
    If you go to the website listed, it clearly states the following:
    § 61.013. USE OF CERTAIN DEVICES. (a) A person may not
    use a wireless communication device within 100 feet of a voting
    station.
    (b) A person may not use any mechanical or electronic means
    of recording images or sound within 100 feet of a voting station.
    (c) The presiding judge may require a person who violates
    this section to turn off the device or to leave the polling place.
    (d) This section does not apply to:
    (1) an election officer in conducting the officer’s
    official duties; or
    (2) the use of election equipment necessary for the
    conduct of the election.

    Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 697, § 1, eff. September
    1, 2007.

  29. #29 John Jakob
    on Oct 15th, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    CA
    No person shall, with the intent of dissuading another person from voting, within 100 feet of a polling place, do any of the following: (3) Photograph, videotape, or otherwise record a voter entering or exiting a polling place

    Emphasis on “with the intent of dissuading”, photography is legel so long as you do not do so with the intent of dissuading someone from voting

  30. #30 William Pope
    on Oct 19th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    North Carolina information incorrect. Please see N.C.G.S. 163-166.3(b): “Photographing Voters Prohibited. – No person shall photograph, videotape, or otherwise record the image of any voter within the voting enclosure, except with the permission of both the voter and the chief judge of the precinct. If the voter is a candidate, only the permission of the voter is required. This subsection shall also apply to one‑stop sites under G.S. 163‑227.2.”

  31. #31 McColley.net » Blog Archive » YouTube and PBS Want You to Video Your Vote [YouTube]
    on Oct 20th, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    [...] at the polls on election day. Want to participate? Better make sure polling place photography is legal in your state. [...]

  32. #32 PhotoNetCast #16 - Photographing the desert night with Troy Paiva | PhotoNetCast
    on Nov 3rd, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    [...] State Laws on Polling Place Photography – Center for Citizen Media (via Gary Crabbe ) Share: These icons link to social bookmarking [...]

  33. #33 Fortuna Faveat | A couple last minute reminders for election day
    on Nov 3rd, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    [...] While at the polling place, you should bring along your digital camera or camcorder or whatever kind of recording device that may be handy and document your voting process. PBS and YouTube are hosting a Video Your Vote channel to host everyone’s experience. This has two huge benefits for society. First, it keeps a record of any shenanigans or voter suppression that may be going on out there (don’t ever forget what happened in 2000 and 2004). Second, it is a great way to promote active citizenry. Just make sure such recording is legal in your state. [...]

  34. #34 Photographing Elections - Know the Law In Your State | JMG-Galleries - Jim M. Goldstein Photography: travel, landscape, and nature pictures - stock photos and fine art prints
    on Nov 4th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    [...] State Laws Vary on Polling Place Photography – Center for Citizen Media [...]

  35. #35 Election in Yosemite | View from the Little Red Tent
    on Nov 4th, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    [...] (With thanks to Jim Goldstein for linking to This page on the laws regarding photography at the polls. [...]

  36. #36 Syber News » PBS, YouTube, Others Team for “Video Your Vote”
    on Feb 22nd, 2009 at 10:50 am

    [...] and video equipment are not allowed at polling places in some states. You need to check; here’s one place you could look, as supplied by GroundReport, though it is dated 2006.Watch a Beet.tv interview with [...]