Ten things to know about voting

An election checklist for voters before and as they vote

    1. Study the issues and candidates using nonpartisan resources: Make use of fact check organizations who seek to offset inaccurate, misleading, or false claims by politicians and partisan political groups.
      The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, is a good source for election information.


    1. Know your rights and responsibilities before heading out to the polls: To vote in many states, voters must provide a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document that shows the name and address of the voter. The ability to register to vote on Election Day is available in 8 states. Make sure you sign in before taking a ballot.


    1. Photo ID is sometimes required: Many states have adopted strict voter photo ID requirements since 2011. Although the courts have thrown out a few of them, check your state election office or local clerk’s office before Election Day. Voters who are unable to show proper ID at the polls should be given a provisional ballot.


    1. Check your voter registration status with your municipal clerk or your state elections Website. Some states have purged legitimate voters from voter rolls. As with voter ID laws, the purges have disproportionately disenfranchised students, the elderly, and minority voters.


    1. Voter suppression is real: Methods of voter suppression include photo ID laws skewed to favor a particular political party or candidate, faulty purging of voter rolls, providing an insufficient number of voting machines or election workers at specific polling locations to create a long wait, and disinformation about voting dates, times, and procedures.


    1. Know what to do if you run into a problem at the polls: First, ask for an election official. If you are not satisfied, contact a supervisor. If you are still not satisfied, file a complaint with the election office immediately. If you see voter fraud, voter intimidation, electioneering or misconduct, tell election officials and contact your local district attorney or state attorney general.


    1. You may see election observers and poll challengers: Election observers are not allowed to interact with voters and should be reported if they do. There are organized poll watchers whose job is to intimidate voters likely to vote against their side. Do not be intimidated and challenge any attempt to force you to vote with a provisional ballot. An election official can explain the challenge process and provide you with explanatory documents.


    1. Ballot mistakes are not fatal: If you make a mistake when voting, you may ask for a new paper ballot. In the case of touch-screen voting equipment, voters are able to review ballot choices before affirming their final vote.


    1. Leave political items at home: Voters should not wear political clothing or paraphernalia to the polling place on Election Day. Election officials may ask voters to leave the polling place if they are judged to be electioneering or creating a disturbance.


  1. Get in line before the polls close: Voters standing in line waiting to vote when the polling place closes on Election Day – and usually during early voting – should be permitted to vote. Try to vote during non-peak hours. In about one-half of states, employers must give workers time off to vote.
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