An innocent selfie almost landed Justin Timberlake in trouble after the pop star accidentally broke the law by taking a photo of himself inside a Tennessee voting booth, which is illegal in the state.
All Justin Timberlake wanted to do was encourage his legion of fans to fulfill their democratic duty over the next few weeks and vote in the upcoming presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
In order to get his message across, Timberlake decided to upload a picture of himself not just on the way to voting, but actually inside the booth. Little did he know that as soon as he took the photo he’d broken the law, because back in 2015 Tennessee made it illegal to take photos inside polling locations.
— The Hill (@thehill) October 26, 2016
Timberlake then uploaded the picture alongside the caption, “Hey! You! Yeah, YOU! I just flew from LA to Memphis to #rockthevote!!! No excuses, my good people! There could be early voting in your town too. If not, November 8th! Choose to have a voice! If you don’t, then we can’t HEAR YOU! Get out and VOTE! #exerciseyourrighttovote.”
As Justin Timberlake made it abundantly clear in his post, the musician and actor had traveled from Los Angeles to his hometown of Memphis, specifically Germantown in Shelby County, in order to cast his early ballot. But shortly after he’d uploaded both the image and caption, it was reported that Timberlake had indeed broken the law.
The punishment for such offense ranges from a simple $50 fine to 30 days in jail. Linda Phillips, the elections administrator of Shelby County, which is where Timberlake made his vote, emphatically told Local Memphis that taking photos is prohibited in the booth, declaring, “You are not to take photographs or talk on your phone. You may use your phone for information, like if you had a list of who you wanted to vote for, you can use it for that.”
The reason why pictures are prohibited from being taken in polling booths is that in prior cases they have been shown to politicians, who would then pay the individual for voting for them. Phillips added, “If you could produce proof you voted for them, they’d give you some money. And so, you’ve never been permitted to take photographs.”
Shortly after Timberlake’s gaffe started to do the rounds online, the DA’s office was inundated with questions regarding whether or not he could face the full extent of the law for his error. At first, the DA seemed to suggest that Timberlake might actually be in a spot of bother, too. As of Tuesday afternoon they released a statement that read, “The Shelby County DA was made aware of a possible violation of election law. The matter is under review by the D.A.’s Office.”
— Slate (@Slate) October 27, 2016
However, shortly after this original statement, the Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich looked to immediately clear up any rumors that Justin Timberlake might actually be on his way to prison by releasing a second statement that insisted that the matter was already closed and that there wouldn’t be an investigation into any wrongdoing.
Weirich stated, “The statement released earlier today by my office regarding Justin Timberlake and an investigation was incorrect and was released without my knowledge. I am out of town at a conference. No one in our office is currently investigating this matter nor will we be using our limited resources to do so.”
Which is understandable, because Justin Timberlake was clearly helping to publicize early voting rather than trying to bring any harm to it. And those of you who are wondering who Justin Timberlake actually voted for need look no further than this Instagram picture from just over two months ago.
[Featured Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images]