Don't Read This While You're In Line To Vote

Mar 3, 2020

If you're reading these words on an electronic device while in a voting location, it’s likely a poll worker will come up to you soon and tell you to cut it out.

There’s a good reason, though, you might get scolded for taking out your phone inside a polling place – and it’s not about election security.

It’s about voter privacy, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says.

“It’s not about you. It’s about your neighbor and fellow voter who has the right expect … that they are not going to be filmed or recorded," she says. "And they cannot have that safety or security if you are hauling out a cellphone right next to them.”

DeBeauvoir says a voting location is considered a “safe haven.” She says a public polling place is supposed to be a protected zone free of influence, which is why campaigns are required to stay far away.

Even though you are technically in a public place, voting is supposed to be a private matter.

That’s also one reason you can’t take pictures of yourself while voting or take a picture of your vote.

Another reason you don’t want to take a picture of your ballot, DeBeauvoir says, is because ballots are secret in the U.S.

She says making your vote selection public could potentially be used against you later, perhaps by an employee, or someone else who takes issue with it.

“I know there are a lot of people, especially young people, who say, ‘Well, I don’t care if people know who I vote for,’” DeBeauvoir says. “Yes, you do.”