Your Right to Record at the Voting Booth

For the most part Free Press’ work on people’s right to record has focused on conflicts between journalists and police. However, as Election Day approaches, a coalition of groups is mobilizing people to take their smartphones and video cameras to polling places to “video the vote.”

Video the Vote is a nonpartisan effort to train thousands of people to document any instances of voter suppression and disenfranchisement at polling places across the U.S. The group is particularly interested in finding people who can livestream from swing states where there is a heightened concern about ongoing voter-suppression efforts (see a full list of target counties here). Video the Vote is even offering a $100 stipend to volunteers.

If you’re planning to record from a polling place or interview voters, it’s important you know your rights and understand local laws. Video the Vote has put together a great set of resources to help citizen journalists. A few key points from the group’s Election Day Code of Conduct include:

  • Observe and document; don't influence.
  • Remain a legal distance from the polling place.
  • Get permission from voters before you film them.
  • Never argue with a poll worker.

Before you head out, contact Barni Qaasim at Video the Vote at barni@videothevote.org for more information and to connect with other citizen journalists in your area.

Our friends at Harvard’s Digital Media Law Project (formerly the Citizen Media Law Project) have an extensive guide to documenting your vote with detailed state-by-state information about local laws.

Remember to report any evidence of voter suppression and intimidation to Video the Vote. And let us know if you observe any harassment of citizen journalists or are blocked from reporting and documenting.

For more on your right to record, be sure to follow our Tumblr page.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good