What to do in case of intimidation of voters on polling day: “Informed voters cannot be repressed voters”
Voting in person this election season – whether it’s early or November 3 – means being prepared, understanding the rules and knowing your rights, say election experts.
According to a Wall Street Journal / NBC News poll of 1,000 people conducted from October 9 to 12. Surveys suggested a partisan split in voting preference, with Democrats more likely than Republicans to say they will vote early.
Experts say that voters should vote in whatever medium works best for them, as personal risk tolerance around COVID-19 will vary from person to person.
““Do your research, as much as you can, to find out the details of what is required when you actually go to the polls. Check and double-check what the expectations are.“
Voters who go to the polls in person should wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash their hands and / or use hand sanitizer, try to vote during off-peak hours, prepare any necessary documents or forms before they go. ” arrive at the polling station, and complete a sample ballot at home to speed up the voting process, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend.
Here are some other things to keep in mind before voting in person between now and polling day:
If someone is bullying or harassing you, speak up
Bullying voters is illegal under federal law. Examples include spreading misinformation about voter requirements (such as passing a test or being able to speak English), posing as an election official, and “aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record or other qualifications. to vote ”, according to the ACLU.
“Your first line of defense is to ask investigators to ask the person to stop,” Marc Meredith, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies administration and electoral law, told MarketWatch. If this proves unsuccessful, or if you just want to report your experience to prevent the same from happening to others, you can also contact your local election office, he added.
If someone is bullying or harassing you online, try to find a law enforcement official and let them know what’s going on, said Stephanie Young, communications, culture and partnerships manager for When We. All Vote, a non-partisan nonprofit organization co-chaired by former First Lady Michelle Obama. If law enforcement doesn’t respond, call the hotline, she said. Of course, your first call should be 911 if you feel in imminent danger.
Find out if your state allows same-day voter registration
Multiple states – including battlefield states Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin – and the District of Colombia allow registration on the same day, including polling day, in accordance with the National Conference of State Legislative Assemblies. This means that eligible residents can register and vote on the same day.
Arrive at your polling station prepared
“Do your research, as much as you can, to find out the details of what is required when you go to the polls,” Jan Leighley, a professor at the American university whose research interests include voter turnout, told MarketWatch. and electoral laws. “Check and double-check what the expectations are. “
To look for your advance poll site or on election day, which may have changed location due to the pandemic. See if your condition will ask you to present a photo ID Where similar documents, and whether it will allow you to use other forms of identification, such as a student or employee card or utility bill with your current address. Find out if your state will require you to provide a signature that matches the one you have on file. If you have a felony conviction, don’t assume you can’t vote – Check.
Making a plan for when you are going to vote, where exactly you need to go and what to bring to your polling station can help you avoid common voting mistakes, added Young, who has also held White House positions. Obama.
“Make sure you know your rights,” she added. “What we do know is that informed voters cannot be suppressed voters.”
Dress for a successful vote
All states have rules governing political activities in and around polling stations, and a number of them prohibit voters from wearing political clothing at polling stations. If in doubt, leave your Biden / Harris cap or MAGA mask at home.
In a recent case, Black Lives Matter clothing did not fall into this category: A Tennessee poll officer was reportedly fired last month after telling first voters wearing clothes supporting the racial justice movement to return their shirts or their masks. A spokesperson for the departmental electoral commission told the Washington Post that the Black Lives Matter clothing did not violate state election laws, as it did not reflect any particular candidate or political party.
On the other hand, the Miami Police Department called the decision of an officer in uniform wear a “Trump 2020” mask at an “unacceptable” polling station and said it “was being dealt with immediately”.
Some people have come up with some interesting workarounds: in September, a New Hampshire primary voter who was told she couldn’t wear a shirt, calling the late Senator John McCain a “hero,” and President Trump of “zero” chose to remove the shirt and vote. topless, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Read the entire ballot – including the back
Some voters get tripped up by missing some of the races on their ballot, Meredith said. Ballot design flaws could even play a role: reports suggest that poor ballot design might in fact have changed the result of the Florida Senate race in 2018.
“Double check to make sure you get all the votes on that ballot that you want,” Meredith said. “Sometimes people don’t think about looking back, and there aren’t any clear instructions for doing it.”
If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask a poll worker for a new one, said Young, who says she once accidentally filled out a bubble for the wrong candidate because she was thinking of the person. what does not have want to vote for.
Before taking a voting selfie, check if it’s allowed
While some states have started allowing so-called voting selfies with marked voters’ ballots in recent years, others are restricting such activity due to concerns about the secrecy of the ballot. Some states also banned voters use their cell phones at polling stations or take pictures of their completed ballots. Check your state’s rules.
Call for backup if you have voting issues
The Election protection hotline (866-OUR-VOTE or 866-687-8683), administered by the Non-Partisan Nonprofit Advocates Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, strives to answer questions and resolve issues of vote.
Telephone support services managed by partner groups are also available in Spanish (888-VE-Y-VOTA or 888-839-8682), Arab (844-YALLA-US or 844-925-5287) and several Asian languages (888-API-VOTE or 888-274-8683).
If someone questions your voter registration status, ask for a provisional ballot
As the MIT Election Data and Science Lab says so, “provisional ballots are intended to provide rock-solid protection to voters when there are questions about their registration status on polling day. Generally speaking, a marked provisional ballot paper is placed in a special secret envelope, and if it is determined after the close of the polling stations that the voter was registered on polling day, his ballot paper is counted. , according to the laboratory.
“If you feel that you are in the right polling station and have the right to vote, insist that you receive a provisional ballot,” Meredith said. “Each provisional ballot paper is taken into account and counted if the person meets the conditions to be able to vote. “
When We All Vote encourages voters who are faced with questions about their eligibility or registration to first ask why they are not able to vote normally, then call the Election Protection Hotline to explain what happened and see if they can actually vote or should have a provisional ballot.
The American Civil Liberties Union advises ask the poll worker to verify your name on the registered voters list, ask if there is an additional voters list, and verify that you are at the correct polling location before requesting a provisional vote.
Since you want your provisional ballot to be counted, you must still provide any additional information asked by your election office even if winners are predicted or screened on election night, Leighley said. After all, she said, “we’ve never had official results on election night” – and some contests, especially top-down races, could end up being tight.
“Because states vary on when and how postal ballots are counted, and when and how provisional ballots should or can arrive, Election Night never had the final numbers,” said Leighley. State secretaries and election officials certify results days or even weeks after election day.
If you have already received your mail-in ballot but decide you want to vote in person …
Still online when your polling station is about to close? Stay put
If you line up before the polling station closes, Young said, “You have the right to vote”. “You’re absolutely not leaving that line,” she said. If anyone tries to cut the line, call the hotline, she added.