As most of the Western world knows by now, Justin Timberlake cast an early vote on Monday at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown. And he posted it a selfie of his vote on Instagram with this message:
“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.”
It didn’t take long for the media at large to take notice. At some point, Adam Ghassemi, a spokesperson for Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett in Nashville, had this to say:
“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.”
As for taking it to native son Timberlake (who hails from the Memphis suburb of Millington), Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich seems determined to look the other way.
Technically, what the pop star did is a class C misdemeanor and punishable by a 30 day sentence and/or a $50 fine. And someone in the D.A.’s office had issued the following incautious statement: “The Shelby County DA’s Office was made aware of a possible violation of state election law. The matter is under review by the D.A.’s Office.”
But Weirich, who was out of town when the story broke, hastened to put the quietus on that, saying that the statement was issued without her knowledge and adding, "No one in our office is currently investigating this matter nor will we be using our limited resources to do so.
Apparently free of any real possibility of legal retribution, revved-up voting activist Timberlake is entitled, if he chooses, to sing a chorus of “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” And, apropos the message of his Instagram, he certainly got himself heard.