We’re on the home stretch when it comes to the 2018 midterm elections, folks. According to USA.gov, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of all U.S. senators, 36 state governors and three U.S. territory governors, and many city mayors are on ballots across the country, so there’s plenty of opportunity for our voices and “votes” to be heard.
Whether you’ve been canvassing, calling and chatting with others about the candidates vying for our votes, or you’re just waiting for Nov. 6 to be here and gone, this Trepid Tech Mom is here to encourage us all to do two things:
Rock the vote. Do it early and often, as they say.
Go ahead and snap that “I voted” selfie, but think twice before you do it with your ballot.
Fear not, my friends. No more politics here.
Trepid Tech Mom is so not about politics (all I’ll say is this: please vote!).
You may be wondering why, given the ginormous amounts of government ads on television these days and yard signs being displayed, I am bringing up the constant campaigning.
Well, Trepid Tech Mom is about being safe and smart online. And that includes talking about the “I voted” selfie that so many of us love to post across numerous social media platforms proudly.
So, back to those two things mentioned above. As we head into the final days of the midterms, I’m here to say first, please rock the vote and second, go on and snap that “I voted” selfie, but think twice before you do it with your ballot.
I’ll try and make this quick.
Beware of picture-taking at the polls
In many states, it's illegal to take pics inside and/or near polling locations. So when you post that you voted ... please make sure any selfies or photos you take are in areas away from the polls.
Now, you might be thinking, “oh, Trepid Tech Mom, just relax.”
Let’s not forget the year 2016 when the news flurried that Justin Timberlake may have broken the law when he took a ballot box selfie. At the time there was talk that violations of that law could have resulted in a 30-day jail sentence, a fine of up to $50 or both for our favorite boy band star. (Okay, so the $50 penalty might have been worth it but 30 days in jail!?)
Aside from that, those who had voted early started to question what their state’s laws were when it came to the topic of social media and voting selfies.
Now, as I remember any threats of jail time or $50 fees went “Bye Bye Bye” for Timberlake (a throwback to 2000, anyone?) though he did delete the Instagram post. The whole scenario calmed down, but it was a good reminder for us all to think twice before posting a voting selfie and either check out our state laws ahead of time or just snap that pic away from the polling place.
Want to know what your state’s laws are? CNN helps us out by sharing a handy-dandy guide as to what each US state says about taking ballot selfies, broken down by “don't even think about it,” “exercise selfie restraint” and “selfie expression is fine.”
Rarely enforced? Probably. Worth avoiding the hassle of a violation and just taking a different “I voted” pic? Definitely, at least for me.
Which I why I wanted to share with you as well.
Oh, and if/when you do post that selfie, keep in mind those 7 “scary” things our pics may be sharing with others.
Virtual townhalls, stickers and more
Real quick, here are a few fun social media finds when it comes to being a conscientious constituent:
Facebook Townhall — Did you know you can find, follow and contact your government officials and agencies, as well as see a feed of what your government is posting on Facebook? It’s all right there in the Facebook Townhall.
Facebook profile pic frames — Facebook lets you add a “frame” to your profile pic so you can show your support for all manner of things … one of which is voting! To add a frame to your profile picture: Go to www.facebook.com/profilepicframes > Select a frame from the menu or by searching > Click Use as Profile Picture to save.
Instagram “I Voted” virtual stickers — If your polling place failed to furnish you with the highly sought after “I Voted” sticker, have no fear. Instagrammers in the U.S. can include a virtual “I Voted” sticker and a “We Voted!” Story now through Election Day. To get it, open your camera, take a smiling selfie, tap the sticker icon and select “I Voted” from the tray. Even cooler? Once you add that sticker to your pic, other users can tap the sticker to find their polling locations via the nonpartisan site, Get to the Polls.
Twitter “I Voted” Virtual stickers — Oh, Twitter. You’re too good to us! If you include the hashtag #IVoted or #IVotedEarly it will automatically add a special “I Voted” virtual sticker to your tweet.
A one-stop-shop, Vote.org — Whether you want to vote early, need an absentee ballot, need to find your polling place, check your registration, etc., Vote.org is a really easy one-stop-shop for all things voting. Scroll down on the homepage, and you can even find your particular state’s election center!
Spread the word
Yes, being a Trepid Tech Mom (or dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, etc.) is making sure we’re safe and thoughtful digital adults by keeping the kiddos in our lives safe online.
And it’s also about being safe and thoughtful digital adults, and you know, making sure we don’t all land ourselves in jail for rocking our civic duty and violating voting laws with our smartphones.
So, now you know.
Now, here’s a challenge I extend to you. If there’s a fresh-faced first-time voter in your life (or, hey, even a not-so-fresh-faced and tired grown adult) who is excited to cast their first ballot, by all means make sure you remind them to be mindful of what’s in their “I voted” selfie, so they don’t land in the same situation as our famous friend, Timberlake.
And no matter what your child’s age — elementary, middle or high school — be sure to check out the things we as parents can do to raise the next generation of informed voters.