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Election Day Guide Questions and Answers

To avoid long lines, vote between 10 am and 5 pm

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Clearly, the main thing to do on election day is vote. Unfortunately, voting can often be a confusing process. Here is a brief guide designed to answer some common election day questions.

Where do I vote?

  • Many states mail out sample ballots weeks before the election. It probably lists where you vote. You may have also gotten a notice from your local elections office after you registered. It may also list your polling place.

  • Call your local elections office. It will be listed in the government pages of your phone book.

  • Ask a neighbor. People who live in the same apartment complex, on the same street, block, etc., usually vote at the same place.

    If you polling place has changed since the last general election, your elections office should have sent you a notice in the mail.

When can I vote?

  • In most states, polls open between 6 and 8 in the morning and close between 6 and 9 in the evening. Once again, call your local elections office for the exact hours.

  • Typically, if you are in line to vote by the time the polls close, you will be allowed to vote.

  • To avoid long lines, vote between 10 am and 5 pm.

  • To avoid potential traffic problems at busy polling places, consider carpooling. Take a friend to vote.

What should I bring to the polls?

  • It is a good idea to bring a form of photo identification with you. Some states require photo ID. You should also bring a form of ID that shows your current address. Even in states that do not require ID, poll workers sometimes ask for it, so it's a good idea to bring your ID, anyway. If you registered by mail, you will need to produce your ID the first time you vote.

  • You might also want to bring your sample ballot on which you have marked your selections, or notes on how you want to vote.

What if I'm not on the registered voter list?

When you sign in at the polling place, your name will be checked against a list of registered voters. If your name is not on the list of registered voters at that polling place, you CAN still vote.

Ask the poll worker to check again. They should be able to check a statewide list. You may be registered to vote, but at another location.

If your name is not on the list, you can still vote on a "provisional ballot." This ballot will be counted separately. After the election, officials will determine if you are eligible to vote and add your ballot to the official count.

What if I have a disability?

Federal law requires that polling places be accessible to persons with disabilities. But if you want to make sure you will be able to vote, it is best to call your local election office before election day. Inform them of your disability and that you will need an accessible polling place.

Starting in 2006, federal law will require that every polling place must provide a way for people with disabilities to vote privately and independently.

What are my rights as a voter?

  • Equal treatment and opportunity to register and vote, regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex or disability.

  • Privacy - only you should know how you voted.

  • Having your vote accurately counted and recorded.

  • If you have a disability, access to a voting device you can use, along with appropriate assistance.

  • Help in voting from poll workers IF you ask for it.

  • Courtesy and respect from poll workers, election officials and all others at the polling place.

Also See:
If You Make a Mistake While Voting
People Who Can Help You at the Polls
Counting the Votes
Why Many Americans Fail to Vote
Registering to Vote

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