Voting goes to look slightly totally different this yr, due to the coronavirus.
The variety of Individuals voting by mail is predicted to double in comparison with 2016 amid worries of COVID-19 transmission on the polls. (For what it’s value, in early July, Zeke Emanuel, a bioethicist and former Obama administration well being adviser, mentioned that voting in individual in the course of the coronavirus pandemic is about as protected as going to the grocery retailer.)
However different voters ― each Democrats and Republicans ― are reluctant to solid their ballots by mail, their doubts fueled by President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that mail-in voting will result in a “rigged” election and by some Democrats’ accusations that the newly put in postmaster basic, Louis DeJoy, is plotting to sabotage the vote in favor of Trump.
The stakes are excessive. Should you’re voting in individual on Nov. 4 — or early, your greatest wager to keep away from crowds ― you’re very seemingly involved about ensuring your vote is counted.
What must you do if you must wait in line for hours to vote, like folks did throughout Georgia’s major election in June? What if the voting machines don’t work or ballot staff offer you incorrect details about casting your poll?
You’ve acquired questions, we’ve acquired solutions.
Beneath, voting rights specialists share eight issues you would encounter as voting will get underway and what to do to make sure your voting expertise is as hiccup-free as attainable.
What if I am going to my polling location they usually say I’m not registered there?
Keep away from this challenge altogether by ensuring you’ve registered to vote at vote.org. When you’re at it, double-check that your handle is appropriate. Do all of this previous to your state’s voter registration deadline. (For a lot of states, that’s Oct. 5.)
You also needs to double-check your precinct location previous to voting, particularly since COVID-19 could power some precincts to shut or relocate, in response to Cecilia Aguilera, a counsel on the Honest Elections Heart, a nationwide, nonpartisan voting rights and election reform group.
“If in case you have any points voting by mail or in individual on or earlier than Election Day, name the nonpartisan voter safety hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.”
Should you’re voting early, that is going to be much less of a problem for you.
“Many states that provide early voting permit voters to vote at any early voting middle in order that they don’t want to fret about voting on the unsuitable precinct,” Aguilera mentioned.
In lots of states, a photograph ID is required to vote, so remember to verify your state’s voter ID legal guidelines right here earlier than hitting the polls.
You may solid a provisional poll in the event you vote on the unsuitable location on Election Day in most states. However given the various issues that may come up with provisional votes, requesting a provisional poll ought to all the time be your final resort, mentioned Leigh Chapman, the voting rights program director on the Management Convention on Civil and Human Rights.
“Should you vote with a provisional poll, comply with up together with your native elections workplace to just remember to present the extra info to ensure your vote is counted,” she mentioned.
If in case you have any points voting by mail or in individual on or earlier than Election Day, name the nonpartisan voter safety hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. (1-866-687-8683).
What if a polling place opens late or closes early, claims to have run out of ballots, or the machines break down?
Should you encounter any points like this, contact the nonpartisan voter safety hotline instantly at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
“As a basic rule, if a voter is in line on the time her polling place closes, they’ve a proper to vote,” mentioned Michelle Kanter Cohen, a senior counsel on the Honest Elections Heart. “In any other case, that is one other space the place early voting will help keep away from points. Within the uncommon probability that an early voting website opens late, closes early, or runs out of ballots, thus stopping the voter from casting a poll, they will return on one other early voting day.”
What if I’ve to face in line for hours to solid my vote?
Once more, you are able to do your half to reduce strains now, weeks earlier than Election Day, by voting early, whether or not you decide to vote in individual or by mail.
Nonetheless, in case you are caught in line on Election Day, carry a snack and keep in line!
“So long as you might be in line earlier than the polls shut and keep in line, you have got the fitting to solid a poll, even when that’s after the time the polls are scheduled to shut,” mentioned Molly McGrath, a voting rights marketing campaign strategist on the American Civil Liberties Union.
“So long as you might be in line earlier than the polls shut and keep in line, you have got the fitting to solid a poll.”
– Molly McGrath, voting rights marketing campaign strategist, ACLU
For these with disabilities fearful about strains, many states have legal guidelines that permit voters with mobility points or bodily disabilities to maneuver to the entrance of the road, in response to Aguilera.
“If somebody has issues about lengthy strains, although, they need to contact their native election officers forward of time to find out their choices,” she mentioned. “They are able to discover out when the amount of voters tends to be lowest, and about different choices like early voting or curbside voting. If a voter is in line by closing time, she has a proper to vote.”
What if a ballot employee challenges my eligibility to vote?
That is extraordinarily uncommon. Should you’re not in a position to show your eligibility however consider you correctly registered, you have got the fitting to solid a provisional poll, which is able to depend as soon as election officers decide your registration and eligibility. Typically, you need to be high-quality in the event you confirm your voting standing, your handle and your voting place.
Should you’re fearful, you may carry your voter registration card and a doc proving you reside on the handle listed in your registration, Kanter Cohen suggests. Should you’re challenged, “name the election safety hotline,” ideally earlier than leaving your polling place, she suggested.
What if I’m disabled and my polling place hasn’t supplied ample help?
One in 5 folks eligible to vote has a incapacity. The Individuals with Disabilities Act, or ADA, requires that voter registration and voting be accessible to folks with disabilities and that ballot staff help voters with disabilities in the event that they need assistance.
“It’s value noting that voters with disabilities are allowed to usher in the individual of their alternative to help them on the polls (as long as that individual is just not their employer or an agent of their employer or an agent or officer of their union),” mentioned McGrath. “They will additionally request cheap lodging from ballot staff.”
For extra info on honest entry to voting, contact the Nationwide Incapacity Rights Community-affiliated group in your state.
“Each state, jurisdiction and polling place [is] totally different, so this sort of customized help goes to be the simplest,” Chapman mentioned.
What if I encounter a poll-watcher who appears to be making an attempt to intimidate voters?
A ballot watcher is an individual appointed to look at the conduct of an election on behalf of a candidate, a political celebration or the proponents or opponents of a measure.
However ballot watchers should not purported to intrude within the voting course of, except for reporting points to polling place authorities and celebration officers. Anybody who tries to “intimidate, threaten, or coerce” people to intrude with their proper to vote can resist a yr in jail underneath federal regulation in opposition to voter intimidation.
Inform a ballot employee in the event you really feel intimidated and report the incident to your native election officers, whose places of work shall be open on Election Day. Additionally, name the nonpartisan voter safety hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
What if I’m instructed I can’t solid my absentee poll in individual and may have mailed it?
Chapman mentioned that in most states, vote-by-mail ballots don’t all the time must be mailed again. They will also be dropped off at a dropbox, at an early voting location, or at an in-person voting location on Election Day. To discover a record of native election places of work, you may search your state board of elections web site or your state’s secretary of state web site.
What if I make a mistake on my poll?
Given how totally different this election shall be logistically, it’s essential to rigorously learn the directions that include your poll previous to marking it.
Many jurisdictions have a “treatment” course of whereby they contact a voter if their signature or ID is lacking, doesn’t match, or if there are different causes for rejecting the poll package deal, Chapman mentioned.
However be your personal fact-checker first.
Earlier than submitting a poll, voters ought to “double- and triple-check that they’ve correctly enclosed their ballots in any secrecy envelopes accompanying their poll, sealed all envelopes, supplied the entire required info, signed in all places that they should, and relying on their state, that they’ve a witness signature if it’s required there,” she mentioned.
Should you make a mistake or have any questions, you may name and ask your native election official for a alternative poll.
“We’re strongly encouraging all voters who plan to vote by mail to request their mail-in ballots now (if required by state regulation) and full and submit their ballots as quickly as they obtain them in order that they’re obtained on time and any points will be addressed earlier than Election Day,” Chapman mentioned.
For extra info on find out how to vote, head over to our TurboVote module.