NEW YORK - In the digitized world of YouTube, Facebook and other Web sites, the voting booth no longer is the most private of places: People are documenting their votes like never before.
Throughout Election Day, voters were uploading videos and photos of themselves pulling levers and punching holes in ballots - a practice that could be unlawful, depending on the state.
YouTube, in partnership with PBS, created an area on the Google-owned video-sharing site particularly for voting videos: http://www.youtube.com/videoyourvote .
Some videos document long lines or alleged instances of voter intimidation. Others merely revel in the democratic joys of voting, including first-time voters speaking outside their polling places.
"This is the first presidential election in which YouTube has existed," said Steve Grove, head of news and politics at YouTube, which was founded in 2005. "The user-generated revolution in content creation has really changed the way that we report our experiences to each other and also, really, how we hold each other accountable."
Many videos elsewhere on YouTube, though, show voters inside their voting booths. YouTube warns users of the legality of such videos by pointing to the state regulations outlined at the Citizen Media Law Project: http://www.citmedialaw.org .
Some states prohibit all recording inside polling places, including Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina and Texas. Most states specifically prohibit the public display of one's marked ballot as a way to prevent possible voter coercion.
YouTube spokesman Aaron Ferstman said PBS is checking videos in the "Video Your Vote" section to make sure they're from a state where creating a video is legal.
"That said, it's in the hands of the voter to know what's legal and what's not in their area," said Ferstman.
Those laws also haven't stopped many from posting photos on Facebook or photo-sharing sites like Flickr. There's a group on Flickr called "US Election 2008" with more than 200 members: http://flickr.com/groups/uselection08 .
David Basner, 28, made his Facebook profile photo on Tuesday the one taken from his cell phone depicting his ballot marked for Barack Obama with his thumbs-up next to it.
"I wanted to mark the occasion and remember it - I have a feeling it's going to be a historic occasion," said Basner. "This is the first time that I voted where I had the means to do that without having to bring a camera."
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