Know Your Voting Rights
You have rights as a voter! People who want to silence your vote and your voice may try to violate these rights — that’s why it’s important you know what your rights are as a voter.
- If you are in line when the polls close, they must let you vote. This is law so don’t leave before you cast your ballot.
- If you are at your polling place and they say you are not on the list, it is your right to request a provisional ballot. It is then the job of your state election officials to figure out what went wrong at your polling place and if your vote was actually counted or not. This will not only ensure that your vote is counted but that your rights are not being encroached upon.
- If the machines are down at your polling place, you can ask for a paper ballot.
Under federal law, voters with disabilities and voters who have difficulty reading or writing English have the right to receive in-person help at the polls from the person of their choice. This helper cannot be the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, or an agent or officer of the voter’s union. The helper must respect the voter’s privacy, not looking at the voter’s ballot unless the voter asks them to do so.
- It is against federal law to use intimidation to pressure someone into not voting. If you are being harassed, you can report it to the election protection hotline by calling 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA.
In addition to knowing your rights, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with common voter suppression tactics. Remember – if our votes didn’t matter, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to silence us.
- Purging people from the rolls happens when states “unregister” voters who haven’t voted in a few years. If you haven’t voted in more than two years, check your registration status. You may need to re-register if you have been removed from the rolls.
- Voter ID laws, which require voters to present certain form of ID before they can vote, are one of the oldest forms of voter suppression in the US. The laws are designed to keep low income people and people of color from voting. Some people don’t have the resources to get one of the approved forms of ID in a timely manner or pay for one at all. This is an unnecessary deterrent that does much more harm than good. This is truly solving a nonexistent problem because as numerous studies have found voter fraud only occurs between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent votes cast. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than seeing someone impersonate another voter! In order to help you obtain necessary ID, visit https://www.voteriders.org/
- Early voting is a great way to get more people to the polls by giving them more options to vote than just on election day. These forms of voting are particularly popular with people who work more than one job, work hourly shift work, are in school, have childcare needs, or have health conditions that put them at risk for complications from COVID-19. Some states try to restrict early voting and voting by mail as a way of keeping these people from voting. If you can vote early or by mail, we strongly encourage you to do so to keep polling places less crowded for those who can’t. Request your vote by mail ballot here.