The 2022 midterm elections will take place on Nov. 8, with a number of issues — such as abortion access, inflation and immigration — and a handful of high-profile races — in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvaniaand Nevada — top of mind for voters. However, access to the polls has never been more fraught: As cafemadrid’s Fabiola Cineas reported, as of May, 18 states had passed 34 new laws restricting voting. With this in mind, it has never been more important to know how, where to vote and what to expect, including your rights on Election Day.
Before voting, Americans want to make sure they’re registered to vote, know where their polling station is, and what forms of identification to bring (if any). Here’s what you need to know about voting in this election.
Register to vote
Before entering the voting booth, you must be registered to vote. (Except in North Dakotawhich has no voter registration.) Some states, such as California, Washington, Michigan, and Maine, allow: same day registration at the ballot box on Election Day. Other states require: voters to register anywhere from 10 days (Massachusetts) to 30 days (Alaska, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio) prior to the election. The American Voting Foundation has a tool that lists election deadlines, including for voter registration, by state. Depending on where you live, you can register online, in person at a local polling station, or by mail. Vote.gov has enabled state-by-state resources how to register to vote.
To register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old on Election Day, and meet your state’s eligibility requirements. In some states, people have currently incarcerated or convicted of a crimey have no voting rights. Democracy Works has an online tool that lists the voter requirements and registration options (including registration forms) for each state.
If you do not remember whether you are registered to vote, you can check online. For people who have moved or changed their name or party membership since the last election, you must: update your voter registration. you can change this information online, by post or in person in the same way you would register. If you have moved to another state, you will need to re-register in your new state.
Ways to vote
How much flexibility you have about when and where you vote depends on where you live. Voters can vote in person on Election Day, personally during the early vote, or by post (also known as absenteeism). Some states – such as California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – do not require voters to give a reason for voting by mail. Voters in states like Alabama and Kentucky must give a reason for voting by mail, such as being too sick to vote or being out of the country. Keep in mind both the deadlines for applying for a ballot paper and for the postmark to be counted; you can find both dates by selecting your state on the The US Vote Foundation tool. Mail your ballot via USPS or find a drop box.
If you’re traveling or working a long shift on Election Day, you may want to vote in person early. Early Voting Periods vary from state to state (and even province to province) and can start as early as 45 days before the election (as in Vermont). Check for your . to see state rules for early personal voting and where to vote before Election Day.
For in-person voting on Election Day, you can find your polling station on your state’s board of directors website, which you can access. found on Vote.org. You only need to enter your name and/or address. Most states have laws that allow workers to take time off to vote, but specifics vary from state to state. For example, employees in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Wisconsin are not paid for time off to vote. Other states, including Idaho, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia, have no laws giving employees time off to vote. Employees in states such as Maryland and Oklahoma must prove to their employers that they voted or attempted to vote.
A final way of voting is via a preliminary vote. This happens when a voter’s name is not on the electoral roll, but the person believes they are registered. They can cast their vote on a provisional ballot paper which will not be counted until the person’s registration status is confirmed after the polling stations close. Local election officials will verify voter identity and the voter may need to confirm their address or other information. The main reasons why provisional votes are rejected when the voter is not registered in the state in which he is attempting to vote, or is in the wrong jurisdiction.
Who’s on the ballot?
Aside from races for Governor, Senate, and House of Representatives, you can also vote for the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Legislators, Judges, Mayor, District Attorney, City Council, and Voting Measures. You can look up a sample mood at Ballotpedia to find out which candidates are running for which seats in your district. Ballotpedia also explains the formulation and interpretation of voting measures, which can be difficult to parse.
To find out where these candidates stand on key issues, check out their campaign websites, read local news coverage, and tune in to debates.
What to expect on Election Day
Before you come to your polling station, check the hours opens and closes the site. Although it varies by state (and even province), most polling stations are open between 6 and 9 a.m. and close between 6 and 9 p.m. local time. Remember, if you’re still in line when the polls close, you can vote so don’t leave.
Once inside, sign up with a pollster who will find your name on the list of registered voters. If the pollster says they can’t find your name, ask if they can check a nationwide list or help you make sure you are at the right polling station. If they still can’t find your name, ask for a preliminary vote.
Some states require voters to show ID before voting — such as Indiana and Wisconsin — or require first-time voters to show their ID. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists the voter ID laws for every state.
The pollster will then show you to the voting machine or where you fill out a paper ballot and tell you how to cast your vote. Poll staff are available to answer any questions you may have.
Voters with disabilities can ask for a chair to sit on, a quiet place to wait their turn to vote, and to use a voting machine to help people with visual or mobility impairments – every polling station should have at least one. Voters with disabilities and who have difficulty reading and writing English can also bring a family member or friend to offer assistance.
If someone asks you about your citizenship, your criminal history, your ethnicity, your race, the language you speak, or your level of education, that’s voter harassment — and it’s illegal. Other examples of voter intimidation include violent behavior inside and outside the polling station, blocking the entrance to a polling station, displaying weapons, threats of violence and spreading false information about voter fraud.
According to the ACLU“If your qualifications are challenged, you can make an affidavit that you meet the qualifications to vote in your state, and then proceed to cast a regular vote.”
Report a case of voter harassmentwhether you experienced it yourself or witnessed it, contact your local election officials and the election protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español).
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