Politics

Am I Registered to Vote? Answers to Common Questions on Election Day

Good morning, it’s Election Day. Or, for some, perhaps it would be more fitting to say: Good morning, it’s Election Day?!

In any case, here are answers to some commonly asked questions about voting.

How do I know if I’m registered to vote?

There are a few websites you can visit to check your voter registration.

VoteSaveAmerica asks you to enter basic personal information to determine whether you’re registered. That tool is supported by Vote.org, a nonpartisan nonprofit seeking to increase voter turnout.

Another website that lets people quickly check their voter registration status is run by HeadCount, a nonpartisan group; you can use it to verify that you are registered and the location of your polling place.

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Do I have to show an ID?

Whether voters must show valid identification at their polling place varies by state. As of August, 35 states have some type of voter ID law, according to VoteRiders, a nonpartisan organization that helps demystify state voter ID laws.

VoteRiders publishes a map that breaks down voter ID laws by state, so you can use it to determine what your state requires.

The strictest voter ID laws can be found in states like North Dakota and Georgia, said Kathleen Unger, the founder of VoteRiders. Those states require residents to bring specific types of identification to their polling place.

States like New York or California generally do not require voters to provide IDs after residents have registered, Ms. Unger said. First-time voters in those states should bring identification, however.

If you need further help, you can contact VoteRiders by phone or email — it will help you figure out the intricacies of your state’s laws.

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Can I wear my partisan T-shirt while voting?

Although you might want to show support for your chosen candidate through your outfit, that might not be legal in your state.

This year the Supreme Court struck down a Minnesota law that prohibited voters from wearing T-shirts, hats and buttons expressing political views at polling places. Minnesota’s law was particularly broad, however, and it was enforced to ban even general political messaging on issues like gun rights or labor unions.

State laws that ban apparel supporting or opposing specific candidates or ballot measures are acceptable, according to the court’s majority opinion.

Jeanette Senecal, with the League of Women Voters, suggests that, to be on the safe side, voters leave their partisan apparel at home. But if you end up wearing it anyway, election supervisors will often ask you to turn your shirt inside-out in the bathroom, Ms. Senecal said.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping the 2018 elections with our new politics newsletter.]

What if my address has changed?

Every time you change your address permanently, you’re supposed to re-register or change your voter registration information. You should check your state’s laws to determine what sort of documentation, like a driver’s license or utility bill, you may need to bring to the polling place for proof of your new address.

In some states, like Pennsylvania, if you change your address within 30 days before an election you can vote at the polling place associated with your old address. In Wisconsin, you’re eligible to vote with your old address if you’ve lived for fewer than 10 consecutive days at your new address. Details vary, so check your state’s official rules.

What if I’m turned away from my polling place?

Don’t leave just yet.

If you are turned away because you’re told you do not have the right form of identification, ask to speak with the polling supervisor to determine whether you are getting the right information, or call the VoteRiders hotline to get the advice of an expert, Ms. Unger said.

Another hotline to call is 866-687-8683, which is run by Election Protection, a nonpartisan organization.

If your identification or voter registration is still challenged, Ms. Senecal said, you should ask for a provisional ballot, which means your vote is contingent on verification of your eligibility. If your qualifications can be verified later, your vote will be counted. (Here’s more on what to do if you’re told you cannot vote — and how to minimize the chances of it happening in the first place.)

Follow Julia Jacobs on Twitter: @juliarebeccaj.

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