After the recent dustup involving Justin Timberlake illegally taking a selfie as he cast his ballot in Memphis, a state representative wants to make it okay for citizens to take photos of themselves in the voting booth.
State Rep. G.A. Hardaway, of Memphis, submitted draft legislation for 2017 that would repeal the section of the law that bans taking photographs while voting. If approved, the bill would go into effect July 1, according to Hardaway's draft. For now, taking a ballot selfie in Tennessee is a misdemeanor violation with a possible penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine.
This ruckus began Oct. 24, when Timberlake posted a selfie to Instagram showing him in the process of casting an early ballot at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown. Timberlake was trying to encourage people to vote, but had no idea that the state legislature had passed a measure the year before banning photos at the ballot box. After the photo received widespread attention, Timberlake eventually took it down from his 37.1 million Instagram followers.
Although there was some initial confusion from the Shelby County District Attorney's office on whether the megastar was being investigated, no one really took the matter all that seriously. Many, in fact, called the law preposterous and a relic of a less-digital age.
Hardaway made no secret of his distaste for the measure.
"I think it’s a ridiculous bill. I spoke against it, voted against it when it was passed. It’s a law that does nothing but serve as a point of aggravation. The voting process itself, it doesn’t allow individuals to have their constitutional rights with them when they go into the polls. It’s wrong," Hardaway said Thursday. "Why are we participating in the democratic process with a laws that’s unconstitutional? It’s wrong."