Is it legal to use your smartphone in a voting booth? In Georgia, no. But should you be able to? This is a statute that I can argue for, or against, with equal vigor.
OCGA Sec. 21-2-413 (e) “No person shall use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices, cameras, or cellular telephones while such person is in a polling place while voting is taking place…”
Reasons to support the law? It keeps voters from being unfairly burdened. Let’s say I work for PEX Co., and the company staunchly favors Constitutional Amendment 1 which gives PEX a huge tax break. PEX bosses say to me, “Geez Kelly, you better vote right on that issue. Your job depends on it. Send us a picture of your electronic ballot for our records. We really appreciate your support.” If I’m allowed to take a camera into the ballot, they will know that. By not allowing recording of my vote, I’ve got the ability to lie about my vote, vote my conscience and keep my job.
Another instance could be that someone offers to pay you for proof of your vote for their candidate. Hey, it’s happened before. Ever heard of Dodge County, Georgia? So there are compelling reasons to keep the age-old sanctity of the ballot box.
But, and there is always a but with me, how about freedom of speech? Why can’t I proudly show the world that I support Amendment 1? Why is my speech limited to before or after the ballot box, but not while I am in the ballot box? Why can’t I take a picture of my entire ballot and tell the world I’m proud of my votes? In the “old” days, it would take so long to get the picture developed that it didn’t matter, the election would be over by the time I got the picture back. Now I can have it on Snapchat in 2 seconds. Reminder to me, I still don’t have a Snapchat account.
Additionally, ballot machines are often alleged to have defects and not list every candidate. What better proof than a picture? The law has no viable exception for that event, but the government would look pretty silly prosecuting someone in that instance. And while you can’t take a picture of the error ridden ballot, the poll official can: “This subsection shall not prohibit the use of photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices, cameras, or cellular telephones by poll officials for official purposes.” So as long as the poll official isn’t part of the subterfuge, chances are it will get straightened out.
One more thing, you could get caught by your boss not being at the polls when you said that is where you were going. If a co-worker says they were at the polls at 4:00 pm and took video, but I’m nowhere to be found, but I took off early so I could vote at 4:00, well, I’d have some explaining to do. Maybe I was going to vote later, but just took the “free” vote time so I could leave work early. Georgia law prohibits your smartphone in the polling place, not just in the ballot box. But if the co-worker stays 150 feet away from the polling place and takes the same video, I’m cooked anyway.
Alas, lots of problems created by modern technology. Where do you side on this one?