Know your rights to Vote

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News, Featured

Published on October 21, 2020 with No Comments

Learn more about how to exercise your voting rights, resist voter intimidation efforts, and access disability-related accommodations and language assistance at the polls. For help at the polls, call the non-partisan Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

I need to register to vote:

States have different voter registration deadlines and requirements, so make sure you are registered well in advance of Election Day. Voter registration deadlines vary and some states allow individuals to register for the first time and cast ballots on Election Day.

What to do:

  • Check your registration status at
  • If you are not registered to vote, go to to find your options. This link will provide information about your registration options, which may include online registration.

I need to find my polling place

Every state offers options to vote in-person on Election Day, even those that primarily conduct elections by mail.

What to do:

I’m not sure what to bring to the polls

Your state may require you to bring an ID or bring documents to show your residence, especially if you’re voting for the first time. Make sure you’re prepared.

I want to vote before Election Day

Your rights:

  • If you cannot vote in-person on Election Day, you may be able to vote early or by absentee vote-by-mail ballot.
  • Some states allow any voter to vote absentee; others have stricter requirements.
  • If the polls close while you’re still in line, stay in line – you have the right to vote.
  • If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for a new one.
  • If the machines are down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot.
  • If you run into any problems or have questions on Election Day, call the Election Protection Hotline:

What are my general rights on Election Day?

Your rights

English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683

Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682

Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US / 1-844-925-5287

For Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683

The poll worker says my name is not on the list of registered voters.

I am a voter with a disability

Your rights:

  • Under federal law, all polling places for federal elections must be fully accessible to older adults and voters with disabilities. Simply allowing curbside voting is not enough to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility requirements.
  • In federal elections, every polling place must have at least one voting system that allows voters with disabilities to vote privately and independently. Usually, this is a machine that can read the ballot to you (for people with vision disabilities or dyslexia), and let you vote by pushing buttons (for people with mobility disabilities).
  • Under federal law, voters with disabilities and voters who have difficulty reading or writing English have the right to receive in-person help at the polls from the person of their choice. This helper cannot be the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, or an agent or officer of the voter’s union. The helper must respect the voter’s privacy, not looking at the voter’s ballot unless the voter asks them to do so.
  • Election officials (including poll workers) must make reasonable accommodations as needed to help you vote.
  • Election officials must provide you with help if it’s possible for them to do so.
  • A voter with a mental disability cannot be turned away from the polls because a poll worker thinks they are not ‘qualified’ to vote.
  • You can bring a family member, friend, or another person of your choice to assist you at the polls. Do not bring your employer, or an agent of your employer or union.
  • If you bring a person to assist you, let the poll workers know that when you check in. They may ask you to swear under oath that you have a disability and that you have asked that person to help you. Your helper may also be required to sign a form swearing that they did not tell you how to vote.
  • If there are long lines and you have a physical or mental health condition or disability that makes it difficult for you to stand in line, tell a poll worker.
  • Tell election officials what you need. For example, if it’s hard for you to stand, they should provide you with a chair or a place to sit while you wait. If the crowds or noise are hard for you, election officials can find a quiet place for you to wait and call you when it’s your turn to vote.
  • If you are not able to enter your polling place because the pathway to it is not fully accessible, ask poll workers for curbside assistance. Also call 1-866-OUR-VOTE to report the issue.
  • If you have difficulty using the materials provided to make your ballot selections, review, or cast your ballot, let a poll worker know and ask for the help you need. Accessibility is the law.
  • If you face any challenges in voting privately and independently or are unable to cast your vote, report the problem to the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Trained attorneys can assist you and make sure that other voters do not experience the same problem.
  • Under federal law, voters who have difficulty reading or writing English may receive in-person assistance at the polls from the person of their choice. This person cannot be the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, or an agent or officer of the voter’s union.
  • Counties covered by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act are required to provide bilingual assistance to voters in specific languages. This means that they must provide poll workers who speak certain languages, and make all election materials and election-related information available in those languages. Check whether your county is required to provide bilingual election assistance in a language you speak.
  • You can bring a family member, friend, or other person of your choice to assist you at the polls. Do not bring your employer, or an agent of your employer or union.
  • Aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications to vote.
  • Falsely representing oneself as an elections official.
  • Displaying false or misleading signs about voter fraud and related criminal penalties.
  • Other forms of harassment, particularly harassment targeting non-English speakers and voters of color.
  • Spreading false information about voter requirements.

What to do

I speak English less than “very well”

Your rights:

What to do:

Someone is interfering with my right to vote

Examples of voter intimidation:

You do not need to speak English to vote, in any state.

You do not need to pass a test to vote, in any state.

Some states do not require voters to present photo identification.

Your rights:

  • It’s illegal to intimidate voters and a federal crime to “intimidate, threaten, [or] coerce … any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of [that] other person to vote or to vote as he may choose.”
  • In many states, you can give a sworn statement to the poll worker that you satisfy the qualifications to vote in your state, and then proceed to cast a ballot.
  • Report intimidation to the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español).
  • Report intimidation to your local election officials. Their offices will be open on Election Day.










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