Tennessee may allow selfies at polling places after Justin Timberlake controversy

Tennessee may allow selfies at polling places after Justin Timberlake controversy

April 13th, 2017 by Ellis Smith in Politics State

FILE - Int his May 14, 2016, file photo, singer Justin Timberlake performs during the Eurovision Song Contest final in Stockholm, Sweden. Timberlake is scheduled to perform on Oct. 21, 2017, at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, during Formula One's only stop in the U.S., organizers of the U.S. Grand Prix announced Wednesday, March 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting at the North River Civic Center on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Lines at the polling location stretched out the door.

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

After Justin Timberlake came under fire in 2016 for a selfie he took at a polling place encouraging others to vote, the Tennessee Senate began work on a bill that would approve most uses of mobile phones at polling place. 

Timberlake's photo became national news because it ran afoul of the state law prohibiting the use of phones at a polling place, though that law is aimed at preventing intimidation, fraud and selling votes.

A new bill passed by the Senate on Thursday 30-0 would only allow  the use of mobile phones by election officials or commissioners, and only prohibits the recording of a marked ballot if it is part of an effort to commit voter intimidation, voter fraud or the sale of a vote, according to a news release.

"Sometimes citizens are waiting in long lines in hallways before they even reach the room with the voting machines," said Senator Kelsey.  "We need to allow folks to call home about the grocery list while they are waiting."

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is scheduled for a vote in the Local Government Committee on April 18.

"This law helps us to continue to conduct our elections with integrity and reliability, as the ban on cell phone use is a narrowly tailored restriction to achieve that interest," added Kelsey.  "At the same time, it employs common sense so that we don't infringe on our citizen's First Amendment rights."