The “Can’t Stop the Feeling” performer risked a possible prison sentence after the star took a selfie in a Tennessee voting booth.
In a photo posted to his Instagram account on Timberlake is featured standing next to a ballot machine at the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown, while making a scrunched up face.
The caption reads: “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! #excerciseyourrighttovote.”
The celebrity was taken by surprise when he learned that taking a photo or recording audio in a voting booth is a crime in Tennessee, with a penalty of up to 30 days in prison and a $50 fine.
A representative from the Shelby County, Tennessee District Attorney’s office told reporters that Timberlake’s actions are ‘under review’. But later it appeared that the announcement was a mistake and that the authorities just were looking into the controversial photo.
“The statement released earlier today by my office regarding Justin Timberlake and an investigation was incorrect and was released without my knowledge,” the County District Attorney General said.
“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,” she added.
Vince Higgins, communications director for Shelby County District Attorney General, told the Commercial Appeal: “While we are aware of an allegation that someone may have violated a Tennessee state election law, we have not been presented anything by an investigative authority.”
The Tennessee law banning ballot selfies was passed last year and so far no one has been prosecuted for violating it.
The office’s spokesman Adam Ghassemi said: “We’re thrilled Justin can’t stop the feeling when it comes to voting so much that he voted early in person and is promoting voting to his millions of fans. In Tennessee, using electronic devices inside polling locations to take pictures, videos or make calls is not allowed.”
“We hope this encourages more people than ever to vote, but Tennesseans should only use their phones inside polling locations for informational purposes to assist while voting, like our free GoVoteTN mobile app. If polling officials discover someone violating this law they will ask the voter to put their phone away.”
It is illegal to take a photo in a voting booth in 18 states in the US, the media reports, while it is absolutely legal to take a photo in about 20 states and the District of Columbia.
On Monday, a federal court sided with a Michigan man who said the law there that bans voters from taking pictures of their marked ballots and sharing them on social media violated his constitutional right to free speech.