Election 2018: Voter Registration

What if you know that you’re registered to vote, but they can’t find you in the poll books when you go to vote? 

As of May 18, 2018, 18 states and the District of Columbia have same-day voter registration: CA, CO, CT, DC, HI, ID, IL, IA, ME, MD, MN, MT, NH, NC, UT, VT, WA, WI, WY. 

To make sure you can vote in these states even if your previous registration has “disappeared”, be sure to take along your ID and a current proof of residence.  Check your state voter information for a list of allowed documents, but generally it’s a valid form of ID (often a photo ID, the list varies by state), and proof of current address (such as a current utility bill, bank statement, copy of a lease/mortgage payment). Some states allow a “voter voucher”, a person registered to vote in the same precinct that vouches for your identity.  (Some restrictions apply.)

“Please give me a provisional ballot with a receipt, as required by federal law when requested”

If your registration is challenged, or you believe you are registered to vote but do not show up on the voter rolls, Federal law states that you have a right to a provisional ballot. You should always get a receipt so that you can verify whether your ballot was counted. If you do vote by provisional ballot, be sure to contact your local election board/office as son as possible to verify your status. If there are any errors or differences between your registration and your ID, some states will attempt to block you from voting. (In some states, tiny differences cause “mismatches”, for example “Mc Gehry” vs “McGehry” or “Renee” vs “Reneé”.)

Before asking for a provisional ballot:

  1. Verify that you are at the correct precinct and polling place. Most polling sites post a map that shows the precinct boundaries, with a list of voting locations for surrounding precincts.  If you can, take along either your voter registration card listing your precinct/voting location, or a printed copy of your information from your state’s voter registration website. 

  2. Make sure the poll worker is looking for your name under the correct spelling! Sometimes the “miss” is an innocent mistake that is easily corrected. It can get loud or echoey at some polling places and things get mis-heard, or the poll-worker makes an assumption as to how a name is spelled when they look it up. (Think “Thompson” / “Tomsen” - they sound alike, but could easily be on different pages with many names between them in the precinct poll book.) Some freshly-printed poll book pages will cling together, and it’s easy to accidentally flip two or more pages at a time instead of just one - check page numbers to make sure. Eliminate the quick and easy (and innocent) possibilities first.

  3. If you’re in the right place and they’re not finding you in the book, ask them to contact the county and verify your status. 

  4. If they still can’t find you or they refuse to check with the county, ask for a provisional ballot with receipt. If they refuse, ask again, adding “as required by Federal law when requested.” 

  5. If you’re still not being allowed to vote and you know you’re registered, call the Election Protection Hotline and report the incident. They will find someone in your area who can help you. In some areas that have been known to have problems, they may already have a volunteer available at the precinct.

  6. When you do vote, if you are voting on a machine REVIEW and VERIFY all of your selections before saving. There have been reports in multiple states of votes being switched from Democratic to Republican. In Texas, voters are reporting selecting the option for a party line Democratic vote, only to find that “Ted Cruz (R)” is listed as their vote for Senate. (Make corrections as needed, and re-verify your selections.) Before saving, report the problem to poll workers. In most states it is legal for you to take a photo of the screen showing the error.

  7. If you are being harassed inside or outside the polling place by anyone questioning your right to vote, ask to speak with the head poll worker at the precinct, and contact Election Protection. 

866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) / Election Protection Hotline (https://866ourvote.org/)

Spanish/English: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682);

Asian Languages/English: 1-888-API-VOTE (1-888-274-8683);

Arabic/English: 1-844-YallaUS (1-844-925-5287)

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