Voting Rights

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Know Your Rights [PDF]

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 makes it illegal for any state or local government to discriminate against racial or ethnic minority groups by denying them the right to vote.

Know your state’s requirements:

  • Voter Identification and other requirements: visit the National Conference of State Legislatures’ “Requirements for Voter Identification” or call your local Secretary of State’s Office.

Where do you vote and when?

  • Visit the League of Women Voters Education Fund Vote411.org or contact your Secretary of State’s Office.

Treated wrongfully while voting?

  1. Take down the poll worker’s name, the location of the poll, and any names of witnesses.
  2. Email the ADC-VPU to vpu@adc.org or call 202-244-2990.
  3. Contact the US Department of Civil Rights Division Voting Section by email at voting.section@usdoj.gov or call toll free at 1-800-253-3931 or 1-202-307-2767.

Myths vs. Truths

Myth: Poll workers can ask personal questions to determine my identity.

Truth: Poll workers are allowed to ask selected questions to determine the identity of a voter. They may ask for your address and some states require voters to present a valid form of identification (driver’s licenses included). However, poll workers are not permitted to ask questions pertaining to personal or political matters. Poll workers cannot intimidate voters and cannot ask for proof of citizenship if you are already a registered voter.

Myth: You can be denied access to vote and forced to leave the voting polls without casting a ballot.

Truth: All voters have the right to provisional ballots. If a poll worker challenges your eligibility to vote, you can request a provisional ballot, which is researched after the election to determine the voter’s eligibility. If eligibility is confirmed, the provisional ballot is opened, counted, and included in the official election results.

Myth: You cannot vote if your home is in foreclosure.

Truth: If your home is in foreclosure, you do not lose your right to vote. Some states, such as Michigan, allow those who have moved from their homes sixty days to vote in the same precinct. You do not need a home to vote.

Myth: You cannot wear campaign buttons, stickers, or t-shirts supporting a particular candidate or issue while voting.

Truth: Most states allow a voter to wear campaign attire to the polls while voting (note: a voter may not linger in the polling area after voting). However, some jurisdictions such as Virginia, have decided that such items are not allowed. It is best to contact your Secretary of State’s Office to determine what is allowed.

Myth: An ex-felon cannot vote.

Truth: Not all states prohibit ex-felons from voting. Some states even afford those on probation the right to vote. A misdemeanor conviction does not affect your right to vote.

Myth: You cannot vote if you have unpaid parking tickets, traffic tickets, unpaid child support, or other fines.

Truth: Poll workers do not have information on unpaid fines or tickets. You cannot be turned away from the polls for the criteria mentioned above.

Myth: Immigration officers will be at the polls to check your immigration status.

Truth: Government workers at the polls and other poll workers, are not allowed to ask for citizenship status if a voter is already registered.