Five Ways to Protect Your Right to Vote

By Maddy Teka, Esq. on November 04, 2019 | Last updated on November 07, 2019

The first Tuesday in November is election day. As the media focus has primarily been on the 2020 presidential election, you may not have thought a lot about this year's election. However, many districts have something on the ballot this year, and this is your chance to vote on your state laws and local ballot initiatives.

Here are five things you need to know when you head to the polls:

1) You can vote (if you are eligible)

If you are a U.S citizen who is 18 or older, you can vote. States do have some exceptions, however. Some states, for instance, don't allow people with a felony conviction to vote unless they have completed their sentences, including parole and probation. Other states may not allow you to vote unless you bring a valid ID.

2) Register to vote

Federal law does not control voter registration, meaning each state has its own set of unique requirements. Most states allow you to register online, via mail, or in person. It is important to do some research to ensure you are compliant with your state's voter registration laws.

3) Make sure you have an ID if your state requires one

State voter ID laws require you to show some kind of identification to vote. This can vary from a photo ID to a utility bill that shows your address. To ensure the process runs smoothly, look into your state's voter ID requirements. You should also know, if you are a first-time voter, federal law requires you to bring identification.

4) Report if you see any violations

Most people have uneventful election days. But if you encounter an election law violation, speak up. If, for instance, you see someone campaigning near the polling station or a misinformed polling station worker turning away voters, report it. You can try reaching out to poll workers, election officials, and your state's board of elections to remedy the problem. If you think something feels off, contacting an election campaign attorney could also be an option.

5) Ask for help (if you need it)

If you know your state's laws and procedures when it comes to voting, you are in a better position to navigate any hiccups to protect your voting rights. But if you are having any difficulties, politely ask a polling station worker for help. Remember, your vote is your fundamental right where you can ensure your voice is heard. So, do not leave the polling station without casting your ballot.

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