Skip to main content

In myself I trust: Selfies the social winner in 2014 midterm elections


It's a curious pairing – the centuries-old democratic tradition of voting, and the navel-gazer encouraging camera phone technology of 2014.

But it seems to be a hit.

Search on Twitter for something such as #IVoted or #Voted (try Instagram too) and you'll be greeted with a running list of smiling faces with an "I voted" sticker stuck somewhere in the frame.

The Pioneer Press collected a lengthy list of some of the photos, in case you want to browse through. Here are a few examples we pulled off social media, some in Minnesota some not (the vote selfie seems to be a national trend).

This embed is invalid

This embed is invalid

But be careful what's in the background (or even foreground) – it could get you into real trouble.

While 2014 technology often tempts people into a quick snap and share, doing so with your just-filled ballot is illegal in 35 states, according to the Digital Media Law Project.

In Minnesota ... it might be?

Here's the deal: There is no state (or federal) law that "strictly prohibits the use of cameras or other video equipment in the polling place to record an individual's own voting experience," the Minnesota Secretary of State website says.

There is a state statute that says a voter can only be in the polling area while doing voting-related activities: "Voting or registering to vote, providing proof of residence for an individual who is registering to vote, or assisting a disabled voter or a voter who is unable to read English," it reads.

Another statute says a voter "shall not reveal to anyone in the polling place the name of any candidate for whom the voter intends to vote or has voted."

And Secretary of State Director of Communications Nathan Bowie told BringMeTheNews they do "strongly discourage" photos at the polling place.

The Secretary of State's website makes two arguments: One, voters have a right to privacy – both who they voted for and whether or not they voted – which could be "compromised" by photos or video being taken; and two, the activity could cause a disruption at the polling place, an issue exacerbated if it's busy.

"It could cause delays if people are trying to upload photos to Instagram or something like that," Bowie told BringMeTheNews.

But is it actually illegal? There is nothing in the statutes that suggest the punishment could be like in Hawaii or Michigan, where it could negate your vote.

There are a few #ballotselfie tweets, though not many. More people appear to be sharing of themselves post-process with their "I voted" sticker than mid-ballot bubble filling.

Bloomberg View says part of the reason some states outright ban photos is meant to deter vote-selling – it's hard to provide proof without being able to provide photographic evidence. Time reports New Hampshire implemented an updated law on Sept. 1 specifically banning sharing ballot photos on social media.

Sharing a filled-in ballot "could" violate Minnesota statutes such as the ones listed above, the Secretary of State's website says.

The ultimate sticky wicket, of course, is that laws generally can't be passed at a pace that keeps up with rapidly changing technological advancements. So Minnesota's polling place picture policies could be four years old – and they'd essentially be out of date, considering Instagram – which now has 200 million active monthly users – wasn't even a month old on this day in 2010.

Beware the ballot selfie.

Next Up

D'Angelo Russell

D'Lo's late takeover helps Timberwolves win double-OT thriller

Russell caught fire to help the Timberwolves get back to .500.

Gopher Football

Gophers suffocate Badgers, reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe

Minnesota picked up its first home win over the Badgers since 2003.

Meeker County Sheriff's Office

Boy, 6, run over after falling off trailer in Meeker Co. tree farm accident

He was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center with internal injuries.

Target store

Target unveils deals for 2-day 'Cyber Monday' event

The promotion kicks off Sunday, November 28.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.59.30 AM

Edina police warn of recent burglary trend targeting garages and vehicles

The Edina Police Department is increasing patrols in affected neighborhoods in response to the trend.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.03.06 AM

Charges: Man shot Uber Eats driver making a delivery in Cottage Grove

Otis Donnell Shipp was charged with second-degree attempted murder after turning himself in on Wednesday.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.36.14 AM

Waterfront hotel in Duluth sustains damage in kitchen fire

Authorities estimate the damage at around $75,000.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 7.15.18 AM

Large groups of thieves target 2 Twin Cities Best Buys on Black Friday

It bears similarities to the flash-mob style thefts seen recently in California.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves' winning streak snapped at five games

The Wolves' bid for their longest winning streak since 2014 came up short.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.


Gov. Dayton to seek re-election in 2014

The governor says eight years is what it takes to streamline the state government and make it more efficient. In a recent Star Tribune poll, Dayton has a 52 percent approval rating.

Ritchie: Expect delayed election results

Minnesota's Secretary of State Mark Ritchie told WCCO on Sunday that St. Louis County could delay statewide Election Day results more than previous elections. Ritchie said three write-in candidates looking to replace former state Rep. Kerry Gauthier will have to be hand counted. “We estimate that this may go to 1 a.m., 2 a.m., perhaps a little bit longer, in the morning,” he said.