While most experiences casting a ballot are pretty straight-forward, problems at polling places can happen.
Not knowing which precinct you are supposed to be at or not having the proper identification can cause problems when you go vote.
Volunteers at polling places are trained to help voters get their ballots to the right place, and to take a person's ballot even if they are having problems with casting their vote.
As the primaries leading up to the 2018 midterm election get under way, here is a guide to what you should do if you are having trouble voting.
If you are having a problem voting, tell someone.
Talk to a poll worker before you finish voting. If you do not get help from a poll worker, ask to speak to a supervisor. If your problem is not resolved, you can report the issue to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The phone number to call to report an issue with voting is (800) 253-3931.
What kind of problems should be reported?
- Polls closing early (meaning they close even if you were in line to vote before closing time)
- Not having enough ballots
- Being intimidated or pressured to vote for a particular candidate
- Challenging identifications - 34 states require voter identification to cast a ballot; of them, 18 require voters to present photo identification and 16 accept other forms of identification. Click here to find out what your state requires before you vote.
- Dealing with ballots that are confusing
- No help or lack of help with voting procedures for people with limited ability to speak English
- No accommodation for handicapped voters
What should you do if you are turned away without casting a ballot?
If you do not have the proper identification to vote at your polling place, you should be given a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is used to record a vote when there are questions about a voter's eligibility. Provisional ballots are the same ballot you would get under regular circumstances. It allows you to vote then election officials will work to verify your eligibility to cast a ballot.
Per federal law, poll workers are required to give you a provisional ballot.
What if you make a mistake when filling out your ballot?
If you make a mistake when voting, go to a poll worker and ask for help. You will be given a new ballot. The ballot with the mistake will be destroyed.
In many cases, you can correct your ballot yourself if you vote using electronic voting devices, or are using pencils to complete the ballot. Again, ask for help from a poll worker if you need to make changes in your ballot and are unsure how to do it.