What To Expect Today At The Polls

Be prepared and informed before you go.

It’s finally election day, and while many Americans have already cast their ballot, you still have a chance to do so today at the polls. If you’re a first time voter, or even a seasoned pro, the voting process can still be a confusing one, especially during times like these.

The best thing to be when voting on election day is prepared. Make sure you bring any required materials with you to your polling station. Some states require a specific form of identification. Others are more lenient, as I.D. requirement has in many cases been a historical form of voter suppression. Check out what forms of identification your state requires at the National Conference of State Legislators website.

You may also want to put a list together of who you plan to vote for, so that when you actually get in the booth you’re ready to fill out your ballot and go. Ballotpedia is a great resource that will show you who is on your ballot, and what their platform consists of. Even if you need to do some additional digging, sites like this one are a good place to start.

Once you are actually ready to head to the polls, it’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as well as bring a bottle of water and a snack. Lines during this election have been routinely long, meaning you may have to wait a while before getting inside. Polling stations are also adhering to COVID related standards, mandating social distancing and mask wearing. Make sure your mask is on before you hit the road. We all know it can be easy to forget this small step, but such a simple mistake is the worst reason to not be able to cast your vote.

If the polls close while you are waiting in line, you still have a right to cast your ballot. As long as you are in line by closing time, your spot is assured. Do not let anyone pressure you into going home. Being an informed voter could make all the difference this election, especially when the president himself has directly and indirectly called upon his supporters to engage in acts of voter intimidation.

Prominent Republican lawyer Ben Ginsberg wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post detailing the Republican party’s many attempts to disqualify or intimidate voters. He wrote, “…This attempted disenfranchisement of voters cannot be justified by the unproven Republican dogma about widespread fraud. Challenging voters at the polls or disputing the legitimacy of mail-in ballots isn’t about fraud. Rather than producing conservative policies that appeal to suburban women, young voters or racial minorities, Republicans are trying to exclude their votes.”

Voter intimidation is illegal. And you have a right to call it out if it happens to you. It could be anything from questioning your ability to vote, falsely claiming to be an election official, electioneering in or around the polling station, or in any way making you feel unsafe. If you feel you are being intimidated, alert an election official or call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Another important fact to be aware of is your right to cast a provisional ballot. If there is any question about your ability to vote at the polling station, if they say your name is not on the voter roll or you don’t have proper identification, you can request a provisional ballot. These ballots are kept separate from the rest until election officials can determine, within the following days, whether these voters were actually eligible to cast a ballot. If they are, the votes are added to the total count. You can read more about provisional ballots here.

Due to the unprecedented circumstances of this election, voting may be more challenging, and we likely won’t know the results of all this effort by the end of the day. Despite this, casting your vote is still an important and worthwhile endeavor, made all the more significant by how it empowers you as a citizen. Read more about your voting rights at the ACLU website, and find the answers to any of your additional questions through Plus1Vote.

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