Texas: Documenting Your Vote (2008)

NOTE: The information on this page was current as of the 2008 presidential elections, and might not be accurate for later elections. We are retaining this page for historical purposes only. For information related to the 2012 election, visit our revised state-by-state guide.

Texas is one of the states that expressly prohibit the use of all recording inside of polling places.  Specifically, Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 61.014(b) bans the use of "any mechanical or electronic means of recording images or sound within 100 feet of a voting station."   This includes video cameras, still cameras, and cell phones with recording capability.  In addition, Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 61.014(a) prohibits the use of "any wireless communication device" in the same 100-foot zone, so even talking on your cell phone is not allowed.

The prohibition on all photography and video extends inside the voting booth as well, so you should not attempt to record an image of your own ballot (whether marked or unmarked). A Texas election official told us that signs will be posted in polling places warning voters about the ban.  The official also stated that, despite the ban on the use of recording equipment and wireless communication devices, voters will be allowed to enter a polling place carrying a cell phone, as long as they don't use it.

If you are interested in interviewing other voters, you should do so outside of the polling place.  Texas law makes it a crime for you to divulge information obtained in a polling place concerning another person's vote.  See Tex. Elec. Code Ann. §61.006(a).  Moreover, election officials are likely to view any attempt to conduct interviews inside as disruptive of the voting process. 

Outside, Texas law creates a 100-foot zone from the entrance of the building, in which loitering and electioneering are prohibited.  See Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 61.003(a).  It is not clear whether conducting interviews could be viewed as electioneering under the statute, but loitering could potentially encompass even standing in the 100-foot zone unless waiting to vote.  This could make conducting interviews and filming or taking photographs in the 100-foot zone risky.

If you are not inside or within 100 feet of the polling place, Texas law places fewer restrictions on your activities. You generally may take photographs and video and interview other voters (with permission). Despite this greater degree of freedom, you should take care not to make voters feel uncomfortable or interfere with the voting process in any way.


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