It seems that Justin Timberlake is forever getting stuck in these complicated situations where he was, or maybe wasn’t, at fault and the media has a heyday with him —as well as the law.
It seems like it was only yesterday that the pop icon was faced with Nipplegate during his Super Bowl Halftime performance with Janet Jackson, but now that’s all water under the bridge. Cry Me a River and all that…
But, just like with the Super Bowl show, he was only trying to put on an amazing memorable performance that the fans would be talking about for many years to come. Mission accomplished, not the way that he had hoped but still. Mission accomplished bro.
Timberlake’s Latest Scandal
Now, with the release of his family friendly animated film DreamWorks Trolls coming out soon and a hit single that they can’t stop playing on the radio, now is the perfect time for another scandal to rock poor JT’s world.
Throwing out a disclaimer here that I’m an *NSYNC fan for life, ok moving on…
So Justin went to vote early today in Memphis, TN. And to encourage his droves of young and impressionable fans to vote in the upcoming election, he decided to take a selfie inside the voting booth. He later put the photo up on Instagram with the following message.
“Hey! You! Yeah, YOU! I just flew from LA to Memphis to #rockthevote !!! No excuses, my good people! There could be early voting in your town too. If not, November 8th! Choose to have a voice! If you don’t, then we can’t HEAR YOU! Get out and VOTE!”
Many people may be thinking “So what? What’s wrong with that?” he was doing a good thing, wasn’t he? We need to encourage every American to vote and when celebrities get behind it all they can influence hordes of people to do the right thing.
But it turns out that Timberlake may have broken a law. Taking photos inside of voting booths is prohibited in the state, where a new law, which took effect on January, forbids Tennesseans “from using the device for telephone conversations, recording, or taking photographs or videos while inside the polling place.” The crime is a misdemeanor, with a penalty that could include up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine.
So, Is Timberlake Going to Jail?
It doesn’t look like it. Basically, because the county law enforcement team doesn’t want to fool with it. Late Tuesday, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich corrected an earlier statement that said Timberlake’s actions were under review. “No one in our office is currently investigating this matter nor will we be using our limited resources to do so.” Read a statement from Weirich, emailed to The Commercial Appeal.
Even though Timberlake is off the hook, Tennessee officials continue to remind voters that they should not take any photographs while they are in the polling booths.
State rules across the country vary, some states, such as Maine, discourage the practice, while others penalize ballot selfies, including the State of Illinois where ballot selfies are a felony, carrying a prison sentence of one to three years. And in Pennsylvania, a voting selfie could cost you a $1,000 fine or a year’s worth of jail time.
Who knew? It turns out that even though Timberlake ended up doing something bad, he brought more awareness to other selfie-addicts who may have unknowingly taken a ballot selfie for their new Facebook profile picture.
What Would Have Happened if This News Hadn’t Broke to a Selfie-Obsessed Nation?
In the Millennials’ corner is the American Civil Liberties Union. When Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey recently issued a reminder against posting shots of ballots, the ACLU of Colorado jumped in, demanding that Morrissey retract his statement and describing it as a “misguided threat to prosecute voters for taking and sharing “ballot selfies.” A Colorado state senator filed a federal lawsuit on Monday to have the 1891 law against sharing ballots overturned.
Some States Say It’s Okay, While Others Don’t
This is not the first case of ballot-sharing laws, many of which originated more than 100 years ago, being challenged, Recent court cases in New Hampshire and Indiana have affirmed the right to take ballot selfies and share them, citing the First Amendment right of voters to express support for a candidate and to communicate that support to others.
Cue in Snapchat’s entrance into all this mess. It’s not big surprise that the social media platform has also been pushing to legalize ballot selfies. “A ballot selfie, like a campaign button, is a way to express support for or against a cause or a candidate. And because it is tangible proof of how a voter has voted, a ballot selfie is a uniquely powerful form of political expression” said the company.
So where is it ok to take a voting selfie? With no federal law that forbids voters from posting a picture of a completed ballot online, it’s a state-by-state issue. At this time, Utah, Hawaii, North Dakota, Oregon, and Rhode Island are among the states that allow citizens to photograph their ballots.