Ever tweeted a selfie of yourself voting? Or taken a quick photo of the long line you had to endure at the polling place, or of your child’s first visit with you to the voting booth? Did you quietly call your spouse while in line to vote to see if you need to bring home milk or bread? Or more seriously, ever recorded video of an election official challenging or denying your right to vote? Do any of those things again starting next year and you’ll violate the law under a bill nearing final legislative approval in Nashville. Both the Senate and House have approved Senate Bill 597 which says “any voter using a mobile electronic or communication device … shall be prohibited from using the device for telephone conversations, recording or taking photographs or videos while inside the polling place.”
State law already defines “polling place” as “the room or rooms where voters apply to vote and mark and cast their ballots.”
The Senate approved the bill 33-0 last month and the House approved it 75-23 Monday night but added an amendment altering its effective date from immediately after it becomes law to Jan. 1, 2016. It returns to the Senate, probably Thursday, for concurrence with that amendment. The two-part bill is sponsored by Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, a candidate for chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party next week, and Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown.
The first part forbids county election commissions from stopping voters from using a mobile device at a polling place “for informational purposes to assist the voter in making election decisions.” It allows election commissions to require the device be silenced.