2016 Election: Tips for Voting in Person

Promoting voting among minority groups. ( Photo credit: Google Images.)

Promoting voting among minority groups. ( Photo credit: Google Images.)

The 2016 general election will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. If you haven’t voted early or by absentee ballot, this is the day to cast your vote for President as well for any federal Congressional seats that are up for a vote in your area. State and local races may be on your ballot too.

The Presidential primaries and caucuses are now over. If you want to see when they were held in your state, check this chart or visit your state election office site.  Whether you voted in the primaries or participated in the caucuses has no bearing on your eligibility to vote for President in the general election. It’s not a requirement.

Here are a few tips offered by USA.GOV for what to do when you go vote tomorrow:

Find Your Polling Location
For the most updated information on your polling place and hours, or to request an accommodation, contact your state/territorial election office.In addition, there are several tools online that can help you find your polling location, hours, and other details:

Get to the Polls
Can I Vote
Vote 411

Voter ID Requirements

Two-thirds of states request or require that you provide some form of identification before you’re allowed to vote at the polls.

Do you need to bring an ID? 

Your state’s laws, as indicated by this state legislators’ map, determine whether you will need to show an ID, and if so, what kind.

Photo ID versus Non-Photo ID

About half of the states with voter ID laws accept only photo IDs, such as driver’s licenses, state-issued ID cards, military ID cards, and passports. Many of these states now offer a free voter photo ID card if you don’t have another form of valid photo ID.

Other states accept certain types of non-photo IDs, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, bank statements, and utility bills. Each state is specific about the documents it will accept as proof of identification. Be sure you know your state’s voter ID requirements prior to Election Day.

You should also be aware that legal challenges continue to affect some states’ voter ID laws, and requirements can change as a result. It’s always wise to check directly with your state election office to ensure you have the proper ID.

Procedures for Voting Without ID

Even if you don’t have a form of ID that your state asks for, you may be allowed to vote. But some states require you to take additional measures after you vote to make sure that your vote counts.

Some states may ask you to sign a form affirming your identity. Other states will let you cast a provisional ballot, which is used when there is a question regarding a voter’s eligibility. In some states, election officials will investigate the voter’s eligibility and decide whether to count the vote.

Other states require that you return to an election office within a few days and show an acceptable form of ID. If you don’t, your vote won’t be counted.

Sample Ballots

Sample ballots can be helpful to review before Election Day and to bring with you to the polls. Your state or territory may mail you a sample ballot prior to Election Day or allow you to download one from its election site. The sample ballot may look exactly like the real one you see when you vote, and will show you all the races—federal, state, and local—and candidates you’ll be able to vote for, as well as any state or local propositions or measures being decided.

Some non-profit organizations also produce unofficial sample ballots for elections throughout the U.S., based on locality. These ballots may not look identical to what you’ll see when you vote, but will provide the same information. They are different than the sample ballots often provided by the major political parties. Those ballots, which you may receive in the mail or be offered by volunteers as you approach your polling entrance, feature the candidates representing that party.

Voter Accessibility Laws

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and other federal laws require that all Americans—including seniors and people with disabilities—have the same opportunity to participate in the voting process.

As a voter with a disability, you have the right to:

  • Vote privately and independently
  • Have an accessible polling place with voting machines for voters with disabilities
  • If you have a disability, then there should be someone at the polling location available to assist you.

Do You Need Help at Your Polling Station?

You may also request assistance if you speak a language other than English, although it is best to bring someone with you who can translate for you. You may also request assistance if you are unable to read or write although again, it is best to bring someone with you whom you trust.

When in doubt, check with your local board of elections.

For more information, visit USA.gov/election-day.

This post was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

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