What you need to know about your voting rights
As Americans flood into their polling places on November 8, there are plenty of things that can stand between their best, most patriotic intentions and the ballot box. The good news is that many of these barriers are illegal under federal or state laws, and should not keep you from voting. Learn more: http://bit.ly/2fwMIfr
- •No one can injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate you to vote a certain way.It's illegal under federal law for people to conspire to "injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate" you to get you to vote a particular way for president, vice president, or, notably for midterm elections, a member of Congress. You also aren't supposed to be hassled about whom to vote for when you're trying to vote.
- •You MUST be allowed to vote if you're in line before the polls close.Regardless of how long the line is, the important thing is that you must be allowed to vote as long as you're in it before the polls close. So if you're in the back of a long line at 7:25 and there are still several people ahead of you when the polls close at 7:30 (if that's the closing time at your polling place), you can't be turned away.
- •Voter ID laws vary from state to state, the ID you'll need at the polls could range from nothing to a utility bill to a state-issued ID.Voter ID laws require voters to show some form of identification, such as a driver's license or passport, at the polls before they cast a vote. States without voter ID laws generally have "non-documentary" identification requirements, under which voters can verify their identity in other ways, such as by signing an affidavit or poll book or by providing personal information like their address or birthdate.
- •Forgot your wallet at home? Don't leave without casting a ballot.While state laws differ when it comes to what happens if you fail to provide the proper ID and have to cast a provisional ballot, under federal law, poll workers are required to, at the very least, give you a provisional ballot. Don't leave without casting one, even if you've forgotten your entire wallet, and even if the poll worker tries to send you away before you do.
- •Your polling place must be accessible to people with disabilities. And if it isn't they are required to give you access to vote.Polling places are required by federal law to be accessible to people with disabilities. If your own polling place isn't suitable — unable to accommodate wheelchairs, for example — the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 requires election officials to make sure you have an alternative way to cast a ballot. Most states will allow curbside voting if you can't make it inside. The law also requires the availability of voting aids for disabled and elderly voters.
- •Bribery is not allowed. The only thing you should accept is that "I voted" sticker. (Go ahead and wear it proudly.)The only thing you should ever allow anyone to give you in exchange for casting your ballot is that little "I Voted" sticker. While laws vary by state, typical statutes prohibit anyone from giving you (or offering, lending, or promising to give or lend you) anything to get you to vote, refrain from voting, or vote a certain way. This isn't a widespread problem. Still, the law takes this seriously. You and anyone who bribes you could each pay up to $10,000 and spend up to 5 years in jail.