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What does Tennessee law really have to say about voting selfies?

While it may seem hard to believe, we are inching ever closer to Election Day. Indeed, early voting is currently in effect for those voters who will be unable to make their way polling stations on November 8, while those who are undecided still have a little less than two weeks to make up their minds.

Regardless of whether you decide to vote early or be part of the crowd on Election Day, it's probably a good idea to exercise some restraint when it comes to using your smartphone in the polling stations, as you could actually be breaking the law.

In case you have a hard time believing this, consider the experience of Justin Timberlake.

The pop star, who was raised in Memphis and owns property in Nashville, flew into the state from California last week and, while here, cast his ballot via the early voting process. He also snapped a voting selfie and posted it to his Instagram account with a message encouraging people to vote.

While this seems harmless enough, it was soon pointed out that Timberlake's actions were actually in violation of a state law that took effect last January that, while permitting Tennesseans to use their smartphones inside a polling station to help them vote, nevertheless prohibits "using the device for telephone conversations, recording or taking photographs or videos."

Indeed, those caught violating this law can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $50 and up to 30 days in jail.

While Tennessee's somewhat mixed approach toward the use of smartphones in polling stations may seem strange, this is actually the reality in several other states as well. In fact, recent reports have shown how there are a patchwork of state laws on this issue, with some states making voting selfies a felony and others having no restrictions at all.

As for Timberlake, the Shelby County District Attorney has already indicated that it won't be using its resources to conduct an investigation into the matter. It is worth noting, however, that the singer has since deleted the post from his account.

As always, remember to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options if you've been arrested for any sort of felony or misdemeanor.

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Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView Magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

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