Singer, dancer, icon, and Trolls cast member Justin Timberlake participated in the great democratic experiment we call these United States of America yesterday, documenting his personal contribution in his hometown of Memphis. What the critically-acclaimed artist behind FutureSex/LoveSounds didn’t realize, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter, is that Tennessee is one of the many states where photography inside a voting booth is illegal.
Timberlake’s legal trespass could land him up to 30 days in jail, though Tennessee is hardly unique in this regard—voting selfies are illegal in 16 states, and ambiguous in many more, as Vox points out in a helpful infographic. (He’s performative online and gets in trouble for stupid shit, just like the rest of us!)
Had our founding fathers known technology would one day allow us to broadcast our blurry photos of the electoral process to complete strangers, surely they would have included a constitutional clause to encourage this behavior. With or without their guidance, several states have recently struck down anti-voting selfie laws, including New Hampshire and nearby Indiana, as the Associated Press discovered.
It remains to be seen if the “Suit & Tie” artist will be doing time in selfie jail (not likely), though his innocent gaffe serves as a warning to all would-be photographers on election day to look up your state laws, or at the very least don’t geo-tag your shit.
Update 10/26/16 9:23am EDT: In a statement obtained by Reuters, Tennessee’s Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said, “no one in our office is currently investigating this matter nor will we be using our limited resources to do so,” referring to a prior statement issued to the contrary. She described that statement as, “incorrect and... released without my knowledge.” At some point overnight, Timberlake also removed the voting selfie from his Instagram account.
Looks like you’re off the hook this time, Justin.