Break the Law by Tweeting


Unknowingly Breaking the law

It’s November 6th and the American public is out voting. Since social media so much a part of our everyday lives, many may have taken the time today to snap a photo of their vote and send it to share with friends on Facebook or Twitter. However, doing so may have been an act of breaking state law.

In most states, voters are prohibited from photographing, filming or sharing ones own ballot choice. Because the rules vary, actual persecution and punishment is unlikely.

“Some have no laws, some only concern particular times and places. And they all vary in terms of penalties attached,” says Jeff Hermes, director of the Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP) at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

State laws applied to the 2012 Elections can be found at Penalties can range from a misdemeanor charge that are punishable in some cases with a year in jail all the way up to felony charges.

“If you’re exercising your First Amendment rights and it’s at the discretion of law enforcement, you’re in a dangerous situation,” he says. “That defense might hold up in a court case much later, but it’s tough to use that in the field.”

On a related topic, the subject of the American public being able to vote via the Internet is still a long ways off. While supporters say that voting online would encourage younger voters to vote, potential hacking is always a possibility.

-Shawn Napier

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