Know your voting rights


October 30, 2020

As Election Day approaches, it is important for voters to know their rights and make sure their voices are heard. If you are voting at the polls, below is a list of basic rights and resources to keep in mind when you are performing your civic duty on November 3rd. Most likely things will go smoothly, but here is useful information if you encounter any problems. 

Rights and Resources: 

If you are in line when the polling location closes, they cannot stop you from voting and you will be allowed to cast your ballot. 

What to do: If you are turned away at closing, report it to your local election officials. 

If you make a mistake on your ballot, you may ask for a new one. 

If the machines are down at your polling place, you may ask for a paper ballot. 

If a poll worker says your name is not on the list of registered voters, you are entitled to a provisional ballot if it is the right location. 

What to do: First check for your name on the registered voter and supplemental list of voters. If your name is not located, ask the poll worker to check the statewide system (if possible) to confirm your polling location. If they do not have access to the database, ask for them to call the main election office. If you are registered at a different polling place, you should cast your ballot at the correct location. 

It is illegal to “intimidate, threaten, coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he choose.” 

What to do: If someone is interfering with your right to vote, call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (English), 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (Spanish), 1-844-YALLA-US (Arabic), and 1-888-API-VOTE (Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog or Vietnamese). Here is a guide on handling voter intimidation. 

Poll workers are not authorized to question your citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications when accepting a voter to cast a vote. 

What to do: Call the Election Protection Hotline for help from a trained volunteer. 

If you do not speak English very well, you may receive in-person assistance from a person of your choice. 

What to do: You may bring a family member or person of your choice to assist you at the polls, but it cannot be your employer. Some counties provide bilingual assistance to voters in specific languages along with election materials, check if your county has bilingual election assistance 

Under federal law, all polling locations must meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility requirements. This includes having at least one machine for an individual with disabilities to vote privately and allowing those who struggle with reading or writing English to have help from a person of their choice. 

What to do: Bring a person of your choice, except an employer, to help you at the polls where you may swear under oath about your disability and freedom of how to vote. If you cannot wait in line due to your disability, inform a poll worker and they should accommodate you. Report any problems to the Election Protection Hotline. Here is how your state supports disabled voters. 

CHN wants to be absolutely certain that everyone in our country understands their voting rights. Here are some resources (in Spanish here) to let you know what your rights are.

Finally, click here to access CHN’s “Healthy and Safe Voting” toolkit (in Spanish here). Our toolkit provides you with information on how to find out what requirements are in place in your area to keep you safe as you vote.

voting and democracy