News

Actions

Could selfies increase young voter turnout?

Posted: 8:35 AM, Feb 10, 2016
Updated: 2016-02-10 16:35:55Z
SAN DIEGO -- A California lawmaker believes the "selfie" could be the solution to low voter turnout. 
 
Only 8.2 percent of Californians aged 18 to 24 cast a ballot in the 2012 general election. Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) wants to change those numbers. 
 
"We take pictures and post them on social media of our dogs and of our dinner," Levine said. "If people start taking pictures of themselves in the act of voting, fulfilling the civic obligation, then hopefully we'll have higher voter turnout in our elections."
 
It is currently illegal to show your ballot to anyone after marking it, and taking a picture at a polling place could land you in jail. The ban prevents vote-buying and voter coercion. It also makes it harder for organizations and employers to pressure voters, where a photo might serve as proof of how they voted. 
 
Levine took his first "ballot selfie" with his son in 2009 and believes posting pictures like that could bring more people out during elections. 
 
"People want to share pictures of themselves voting," he said. 
 
Others aren't so sure "selfies" are the way to go. Talia Raoufpur is voting for the first time in the upcoming presidential election. The San Diego State student has looked forward to it for years. 
 
“I always thought of the day when I would be able to do this,” she said.  "One vote may not matter in the end, but it matters to me." 
 
Raoufpur wonders if the selfie incentive will attract those people worried more about a status update than the country. 
 
"You should want to vote, but you should go vote because you want to, because you feel that it's your responsibility," Raoufpur said. "Not everyone has this privilege, especially women."
 
Still, Levine hopes it will change the current culture of voting. 
 
"We want to encourage all Californians, no matter what generation they're in, to vote," he said. 
 
No Californian has ever been prosecuted for taking a "ballot selfie." The privacy laws will still be protected if this bill passes.