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Snapchat Says Taking Selfies Should Be a Voter’s Right

April 27, 2016, 2:56 PM UTC
woman holding up mobile for selfie
Photograph by Tara Moore — Getty Images

For many Americans, its illegal to take a photo with a ballot or even snap a quick “selfie” inside of a polling place.

But if Snapchat has its way, ballot selfies will be the new way to say “I voted.”

Snapchat filed a 28-page friend of the court brief in New Hampshire last week, arguing taking selfies from a voting booth is “core political speech” that should be protected by the First Amendment. Last year, a federal judge axed New Hampshire’s ballot photo ban, allowing photos in polling places. But the case is up for appeal.

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“A ballot selfie—like a campaign button—is a way to express support for or against a cause or a candidate,” Snapchat writes in the brief. “And because it is tangible proof of how a voter has voted, a ballot selfie is a uniquely powerful form of political expression.”

New Yorkers were free to snap their own candid shots with their ballot during that state’s primary, but not so in the five East Coast states that went to the polls on Tuesday. Some of those states, like Rhode Island, allow photos inside polling places—just not in the voting booth or with a ballot.

Laws banning ballot photography were enacted largely to keep voting secret and discourage voter fraud through vote selling and buying. But Snapchat says those same laws are keeping today’s young voters from sharing their own civic engagement with their friends.

In the brief, Snapchat says “political coverage is a big part of the Snapchat experience.” The social media brand has been covering the political campaign this season with “live stories” and launched a political campaign show called “Good Luck America” earlier this year, which, like everything Snapchat, disappears after you watch it.

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Snapchat is arguably the social media and sharing platform of choice for many younger voters. More than 60% of American smartphone users between the ages of 13 and 34 use the disappearing photo and video-sharing app, boasts Snapchat based on a mélange of data from the U.S. Census, ComScore, and internal company data. Even the White House snaps now.

Looking toward the up-and-coming generation of voters—teenagers—the app beats out all other social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.