Election Protection: Know your Rights as a Voter

Last updated on October 26, 2022

Election Protection - Here are the Basics

  1. Check your state’s ID requirements before you leave the house to make sure you have what you need to vote. Confirm which forms of ID your state accepts here.
  2. Bring your phone with you to vote so you can call the election protection hotline if necessary and record any illegal activities if they occur.
  3. Keep your place in line. The lines may be long, but as long as you are in line when the polls close, you will be allowed to cast your ballot. If you leave the line, you may not be able to vote.
  4. Do everything you can to vote a regular ballot. Cast a provisional ballot only if you have no other option. In many states if you cast a provisional ballot at the wrong polling location it will not be counted.
  5. Try to fix any problem you have in real time at your polling site rather than go home as the lines could be longer, the polls could be closed, you never know what could happen once you leave.
  6. And remember that most poll workers are trying their best under often difficult circumstances. Most problems are not intentional but a result of poor communications, if you’re nice to them, chances are they’ll be nice to you.

It is illegal for anyone to try to stop you from voting. If you experience any of the following, report it to Election Protection (866-687-8683*) immediately

  • Intimidation. This may include physically blocking entrance to voting, cursing at people waiting to vote, looking over people’s shoulders while they vote, questioning voters about their choices or citizenship status, asking for identification unnecessarily.
  • Coercion. This may include offering money to vote for a certain person, spreading false rumors about candidates or voting, displaying signs with false or misleading information, impersonating poll workers.
  • Threats. These may include comments such as “your family will be deported if you vote,” “you will be fired from your job if you vote,” “your kid won’t make the football team if you vote.”
  • False information about voting requirements.
  • People impersonating poll workers or election officials.

What to Do if You're Told You're Not on the Voter Roll

  • Confirm that you are registered to vote.
  • Confirm that you are at the right polling place.
  • If you are registered and at the right site don’t leave! Call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-687-8683* and ask for help voting.
  • Did you recently move? If so, you may still be registered where you used to live. Check with a poll worker to see if you can update your registration and vote a regular ballot where you are. Otherwise, you may need to vote at your old polling location or at a central polling place.

Know Voter Identification Laws for your State

If you are being turned away from voting for not having the proper ID:

  • Confirm which forms of ID your state accepts
  • Ask the poll worker if there is some other form of identification they might accept. Some states accept documents you may not think of as ID, like a paystub or utility bill with your address. If you need to go back home to get your ID, ask the poll worker if you can skip the line when you come back to vote. If you can’t come back the same day, ask the poll worker if your state allows you to come back and show your ID following Election Day and still have your vote counted.
  • If you do not have any acceptable form of ID, ask the poll worker if your state allows you to vote without ID by signing something under oath? This is the case in several states where ID is required (CT, ID, IA, LA, MI, MT, NH, SD, TN).
  • As a last resort, cast a provisional ballot. In some states that require ID, your provisional ballot will be counted if your signature matches what is on file in the voter registry.

Provisional Ballots & When to Use Them

A provisional ballot is a type of ballot that some voters may need to cast if election officials can’t confirm that the voter meets all the requirements to vote. The ballot is called “provisional” because it will only be counted if the election officials are able to verify later that the voter meets the voting requirements.

If possible, try not to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are, in essence, back up votes. These ballots are supposed to be counted when the eligibility of the voter is confirmed, however, it can be difficult in some states to find out if that has happened. In 27 states, if you cast a provisional ballot at the wrong polling location, your vote will not be counted.

If you encounter a problem on election day and are told you aren’t allowed to vote, tell the election worker you would like to vote a provisional ballot:

  • Ask for written instructions about what you must do to ensure the provisional ballot will be counted.
  • Ask for a phone number you can call to confirm if your vote was counted.

If you had to cast a provisional ballot, it may not be too late to make your vote count. The poll worker should have given you a piece of paper with instructions on how to make your ballot count. If you don’t have those instructions, call your local election official and ask the following four questions:

  1. Why was I required to vote a provisional ballot?
  2. What documentation do I need to provide to make my vote count?
  3. Where should I bring or send that documentation? Do you accept it by email? Can a friend or family member bring the document to you on my behalf?
  4. What is the deadline I need to be sure to provide my documentation before?

Visit our ballot tracking page for state specific resources. If you have additional questions after taking these steps, you can call 866-OUR-VOTE.*

Errors on a Ballot & Steps To Take

If you make a mistake on your ballot envelope (for example, you forget to sign the envelope, or the election official can’t read your handwriting) the election official may require you to “cure” that mistake before they will count the ballot. This is called ballot curing.

In most cases, the election official will notify you promptly if there’s a need to cure your ballot. The notification will tell you what information you need to provide to make the cure (such as signing a new ballot envelope or providing a copy of your ID) and the deadline for submitting that information.

You have several options if you think you may need to cure your ballot but you haven’t received a notice from your election official. First, many states offer a website where you can check the status of your mail ballot to see if it has been counted or may need to be cured. You can also reach out directly to your local election official to ensure they received your ballot and will count it. Be aware there can be strict ballot cure deadlines in some states (sometimes as early as Election Day or the day before).

*The Election Protection Hotline is a Vote.org partner and a separate entity.

Looking to start your own voter engagement drive?

While Vote.org reaches voters directly through a multi-tiered approach, we also partner with key organizations, businesses, public figures and influencers to ensure that voters are receiving timely, accurate election information from the sources they already trust.

Get Vote.org+ Tools