Justin Timberlake snapped a ballot selfie and posted it to his Instagram account ― but the well-meaning gesture violated a state law.
The international pop star just wanted people to “get out and VOTE,” he wrote in the caption.
Timberlake traveled almost 2,000 miles on Monday to vote in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, where state law prohibits voters from photographing, videotaping or recording what happens inside a polling place. Breaking the law can come with a penalty of up to 30 days of jail time and a $50 fine.
A spokeswoman at the Shelby County District Attorney’s office told The Huffington Post Tuesday that “the matter is under review” ― but the DA’s office later told TMZ that since no one had filed a formal complaint about the incident, they won’t be looking into it after all.
The spokeswoman didn’t say whether the office had seen similar polling-place violations since early voting began in the state last week.
Timberlake, who flew in from Los Angeles, used social media to urge his fans to exercise their right to vote.
“No excuses,” he wrote on the post, which had garnered nearly half a million likes by Tuesday afternoon. “Choose to have a voice! If you don’t, then we can’t HEAR YOU!”
State laws regarding so-called ballot selfies vary. Some allow photos at polling places, while others enforce jail time or steep fines. Earlier this year, Snapchat executives got involved in a New Hampshire lawsuit about ballot selfies. They wanted to make the pictures legal on Election Day, arguing that it’s a First Amendment right.
Their efforts were successful. In September, an appeals court in New Hampshire ruled that banning these photos “affects voters who are engaged in core political speech, an area highly protected by the First Amendment.”
Many states still disagree — including Tennessee, which last year passed the law that Timberlake violated.
This story and headline have been updated to include the DA office’s later comments about the incident not being under review.
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