Can Minnesotans video their vote?

PBS and YouTube are trying a different way of documenting Election Day. They’re asking people to “videotape their voting experience.” The video below notes that “everyone and their brother” is asking you to videotape news, but it says if you get some really big news — long lines, irregularities in voting etc. — then “they’ll really be interested.”

It’s unclear whether it’s legal in Minnesota to film the act of voting. The Minnesota statute on the subject doesn’t specifically say. But the effort could clash with a theme debated during the Republican National Convention: If you take videos for the purpose to telling a story, are you a journalist?

If so, then the statute spells out some requirements.

A news media representative may enter a polling place during voting hours only to observe the voting process. A media representative must present photo identification to the head election judge upon arrival at the polling place, along with either a recognized media credential or written statement from a local election official attesting to the media representative’s credentials. A media representative must not:

(1) approach within six feet of a voter;

(2) converse with a voter while in the polling place;

(3) make a list of persons voting or not voting; or

(4) interfere with the voting process.

I’ve put a call in to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office for clarification.

  • Bob Moffitt

    I should note that the fellow who did the narration and illustration, David Gillette, is a local kid and now a regular on Almanac.

    Here’s his website:

    I hired him to do an animated spot for the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest that turned out very well, IMHO.

  • Brian Hanf

    Bob –

    The rules are/get a little fuzzy on the question asked – IF it is your polling place.

  • Stacia

    Interesting. I absentee voted on Monday and really wanted to take a picture of my completed ballot because I felt so empowered and happy. I was scared they’d throw away my ballot and confiscate my phone.

  • bsimon

    Are documentarians journalists? Are they ‘news media representatives?’

    The SOS will probably say no cameras.

  • Bob Collins`

    The Secretary of State’s office never called me back, bsimon. I got “Redferned.”

  • gml4

    Hmmm… I actually recorded myself voting last year at our school board/levy vote. It was actually quite scandulous because when I got there to vote, they were asking for IDs.

    So here’s a 5 minute long video documenting my voting last year.