Georgia Law Prohibits Recording Inside Polling Places

Georgia is one of the states that explicitly prohibit photography inside polling places.  Section 21-2-413(e) of the Georgia Code states:

No elector shall use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices or cellular telephones while such elector is within the enclosed space in a polling place.

This prohibition applies to the entire polling place, not just the voting booth.  Therefore, Georgia voters should not attempt to use a video camera, still camera, or other recording device anywhere inside a polling place.

Additionally, section 21-2-414(e) specifically bans the use of a cell phone or other communications device once a person has been issued a ballot or is inside the voting booth.  Taken together, these two sections indicate that you would be violating the law if you attempted to record your own vote inside the voting both.

Some media organizations in Georgia have specifically addressed the Video Your Vote project.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently wrote an article that you may find helpful.  Additionally, Georgia Public Broadcasting has an insightful article that includes an interview with an election official in Georgia.  According to that official, signs warning voters about the ban on photography/videography will be posted at polling places, and poll workers are aware of the prohibition.

Outside of the polling place, Georgia law does not expressly prohibit photography.  But, section 21-2-414(a) prohibits anyone from conducting "any exit poll or public opinion poll with voters . . . within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established."  So, if you are planning to interview voters, make sure that you are more than 150 feet away from the building.

If you plan on interviewing other voters outside, you should also be aware of section 21-2-568(5).  This provision makes it a misdemeanor to "[d]isclose[] to anyone how another elector voted, except when required to do so in any legal proceeding."  Interpreted literally, this statute could make it illegal to ask a voter on camera how he or she voted or to otherwise publish online any information about how a specific voter voted, even if the voter tells you this information willingly and gives you permission to post the video or publish the information online. It is not clear whether Georgia election officials take the position that section 21-2-568(5) prohibits this conduct, but this is not outside the realm of possibility given how seriously they take ballot secrecy.

This post is part of our series looking at state election laws that regulate activities at polling places on Election Day.  We cover these laws from a general standpoint in the Documenting Your Vote section of our legal guide. If you've got input on election laws in Georgia or other states, please leave a comment or contact us directly.

(Stefani Wittenauer is a second-year law student at Harvard Law School and a CMLP Legal Intern.)

(Photo courtesy of J.J. Bellemare on the New York Times Polling Place Photo Project.  Licensed under a CC Attribution-No Derivatives license.)


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