The iPhone had its week last week, when Instagram brought unbelievable but real images of Sandy's destruction to our attention and Twitter acted as a (mostly) reliable news and information source for many people. With power out for many, cell phones helped many communicate until their batteries died, or lost connection completely. And leading up to today, the election was all about smartphones. Both candidates, for example, had apps of varying usefulness. But Election Day, however, doesn't want any of that.
No Instagram Allowed. All those people Instagramming their marked ballots: That is illegal in a lot of places. Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada and Texas "expressly prohibit the use of photographic and recording equipment inside polling places," as this chart from the Citizen's Media Law Project explains. And a majority of the states prohibit photos of one's own marked ballot, under some sort of law or another. Wisconsin is telling voters that tweeting or Facebooking or Instagramming a photo is considered a Class I felony. A polling place in North Carolina booted one voter who used his iPhone to get information.
No Instapaper (or New York Times app or Facebook app), either. While waiting in those long voting lines, you might be tempted to catch up on some reading on your iPad, Kindle, or iPhone. Or, maybe you're more of a Words With Friends phone procrastinator. In any case, some polling places don't allow electronic devices inside at all, as The Atlantic's Bob Cohn discovered while voting today.
Archaic! In MD, the no-mobile policy means it is lawful to read a newspaper in print while waiting in (long) lines, but on your phone.— Bob Cohn (@1bobcohn) November 6, 2012
We couldn't find an exhaustive list of which places allow electronic devices and which ones don't. But some in Colorado may not.
There Is Not, and Never Will Be, an App for That. Of course the technology exists to make a voting app. It's just not something that will likely get the okay because voters don't have control over the vote's destination, as Yahoo News's Beau Brendler explains. "Internet votes could be commandeered by a Botnet herder, altered, sold or destroyed," he writes. For those of you hankering for an app that has something to do with voting, however, there is no shortage of those.
Don't Count on Twitter. Twitter is going to get crazy today. In fact, the election will "break" it, predicts BuzzFeed's John Herrman. He doesn't think there will be a technical outage. But he does think it will be an impractical way to get information. "The slow, somewhat unpredictable release of exit polls and eventually ballot data is exactly the kind of situation where Twitter usually mobilizes; then, however, it will be stretched beyond its practical limits," he writes. Like we saw with Sandy, it could also spread more fake, than legitimate, news—something the Associated Press warned its staffers about.
We know it's 2012 and all and smartphones are not just a way of life, but an addiction. But the centuries old tradition that is voting existed before you wanted to Hefe filter your voting experience. So to be safe, just chill on the smartphone usage today, at least while voting ok?