The Common Law

Get out and vote – questions when you head to the polls

I heard it's illegal to take pictures in the voting booth. Is that true?

Yes. According to section 61.014 of the Texas Election Code, a person cannot use any mechanical or electronic means of recording images or sound within 100 feet of a voting station. I know it's tempting to show the world that you're doing your civic duty, but this means no pictures, selfies, or videos can be taken in the voting booth. If the election officials see you taking a picture they can make you turn off your device or, at worst, require you to leave the polling place.

I made some notes of who I wanted to vote for on my phone, but my friend told me you can't even have your phone out in the voting booth. Is he right?

Your friend is right. Stemming from the same section of the Texas Election Code referenced above, a person may not use a wireless communication device within 100 feet of a voting station. The same consequences as taking photos or video in the voting booth apply. It's best to play it safe and bring your notes on paper so you can cast your vote with confidence. Exceptions for this rule may be made for voters with disabilities, but voters should consult with election officials first.

I recently bought a cool shirt to show my support of a candidate I like. Can I wear it to the polls?

No. This is where the Texas Election Code gets a little more serious. According to section 61.010, voters cannot wear anything relating to a candidate, measure, or political party appearing on the ballot within 100 feet of any polling places. Unlike the previous statutes, a violation of this rule is a class C misdemeanor and could result in a fine of up to $500. Save your money and leave your Beto or Cruz shirts at home.

Please submit column suggestions, questions, and comments to thecommonlaw@austinchronicle.com. Submission of potential topics does not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information submitted is subject to being included in future columns.

Marrs, Ellis & Hodge LLP, www.jmehlaw.com.

The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or www.austinlrs.com.

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