election day legal guide for US bloggers

9804199_b59dac432a_m The American mid-term elections are today (Tuesday 07 Nov) and lots of bloggers – and I’m not just talking about the BBC, Daily Kos and Instapundit – are likely to be providing coverage of the elections, last minute campaigning and polling.

The BBC 5Live’s Pods and Blogs, which put out a call for help from citizen journalists – a calll that was answered after people like Craigslist’s Craig Newmark got involved – will be live blogging the election. You’ll find some of the stuff they’ve already done here.

If you’re planning on blogging the election yourself, you’ll probably want to make sure that you do so within the boundaries of the law in the state you’re in. The Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School (disclosure: I am currently a non-residential fellow at Stanford Cyberlaw) has put together a state by state guide to photographing and/or recording from the polling station.

Originally, Lauren Gelman and the students at Stanford Cyberlaw had set out to answer more general questions about election day law but found that around 80% of the questions were actually about photography.

Do have a look if you want to know the answers to questions like:

  • Can you be in the voting area except to vote? (Not in Delaware)

  • Can you ask people how they voted? (Not within 50 ft of polling place in Rhode Island).
  • Can you take photos? (In CA it is illegal to photograph, videotape or otherwise record a voter entering or leaving a polling place).
  • [UPDATE: I just came across this as well – “9 Ways Citizen Journalists Can Cover the Elections“]

    (photo by me – Nov. ’94)