Picture this: after weeks and weeks of political wrangling with signs littering every intersection in every town, mind-numbing TV and YouTube commercials, and countless unsolicited text messages, Election Day is here (the actual Election Day, not one of the early voting days).

You can breathe a sigh of relief and feel proud to participate in a great exercise that'll shape the future of your community and state.

You step into a voting booth and press a couple of buttons. But before you officially cast your vote, you whip out your cell phone and take a selfie with every intention of posting that picture on social media to show the world which candidates you picked.

Not so fast.

Taking a selfie with your ballot in New Jersey is illegal, as it is in many states.

"I voted" stickers at a polling place
"I voted" stickers at a polling place (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media)

Illegal as in you could go to jail, theoretically anyway.

As it is written, New Jersey law states the following:

No person shall within the polling room mark his ballot in a place other than in the polling booth or show his ballot, nor shall anyone request such person to show his ballot during the preparation thereof, nor shall any other person inspect such ballot during the preparation thereof or after it is prepared for voting in such a way as to reveal the contents, nor shall any person within the polling place or within a hundred feet thereof, loiter, electioneer, or solicit any voter.

The part to focus on is, "No person shall...show his ballot..."

Showing your ballot by taking a picture of it and posting that photo online has been interpreted as a violation of state law.

In New Jersey, it's a fourth-degree crime which means you could go to jail for up to 18 months and be fined up to $10,000.

Now, let's be honest. Are you really going to be sent to the slammer for a year and a half for taking the modern-day equivalent of a Polaroid picture and passing it around?

Hallway of prison cells - Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash
Hallway of prison cells - Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash

Probably not -- but you could.

Just imagine that "what are you in for?" conversation with your cellmate...

What about mail-in ballots?

I guess it's also up to interpretation as to whether or not you can take a selfie with your mail-in ballot at home before you drop it off. I'm not a legal scholar by any means, but this law clearly says, "No person shall within the polling room... show his ballot."

Your kitchen table isn't within a polling room. Is a selfie in that setting legal? I really don't know.

A ballot drop box outside the Hunterdon County Library in Raritan Township. (Michael Symons/Townsquare Media NJ)
A ballot drop box outside the Hunterdon County Library in Raritan Township. (Michael Symons/Townsquare Media NJ)

And yes, someone did try to change this law. A number of years ago, a bill was introduced in Trenton that would have allowed you to share a picture of you and your ballot online, but it didn't get anywhere.

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