You have rights when you go to vote — and many people are there to help if there’s trouble at the polls
Daniel R. Birdsong, University of Dayton
Despite all the challenges to this year’s election — long lines, calls for voter intimidation, baseless claims of fraud — voting is a fundamental civil right.
As a political scientist who studies campaigns and elections, I have confidence in American democracy. Lots of people are working at the polls and behind the scenes to ensure election 2020 runs smoothly and safely.
Here, I’ll outline your rights as a voter and explain where to turn if you encounter trouble at the polls.
First, a caveat: Elections in the United States are run by the states, so there are 50 versions of everything I’m about to say — more with Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and other overseas territories. Specific information about polling locations, voter ID requirements and how to vote can be found at the National Conference of State Legislatures website or at your state’s Secretary of State website.
Check your state’s requirements before you leave to vote. Thirty-five states request or require that voters to show some form of identification at the polls. Voter ID laws may be very strict, requiring a photo ID like a valid driver’s license or U.S. passport, as in Georgia, Indiana and Mississippi.
Know whether you need to bring one of those documents, or whether a current utility bill or bank statement will do, as is the case in Ohio, where I live.