Here Are Your Rights While Voting You Should Know About Before Election Day 2018
Election Day 2018 is fast approaching, and for some of you it might be the first time your headed to the polls. The first time I went to vote, I felt super anxious about what to expect and making sure I had all the information. If you're anything like me, then thoughts of what your rights are while voting might be keeping you up at night. Don't fret, there's nothing major to worry about, but there are a few things you should know.
While most of us know we have the right to vote, there are certain rights you should know about when it comes to casting said vote.
Remember when you were still in school and had off on Election Day each year? Well, thanks to #adulting that's not always the case anymore, and worrying about finding the time to vote during work is an issue many people face. Whether or not you have to take off on Election Day in order to vote is a little tricky. According to The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), there's no requiring employers to give time off to vote, and how that's handled varies from state to state. Some states like Arizona will give employees a few paid hours off to go vote, while others like Georgia will give time off but unpaid. A state-by-state list can be found on the AFL-CIO website. That way when you notify your boss, you'll know what your rights are.
Once you figure out how to make time to vote and you find yourself at your polling place, there are a few other rights you should know about. Whether this is your first time voting or you've voted before, you know that the lines at the polls can be brutal. But even if the line is out the door and around the corner (and a town over), the polling place must stay open. Translation: if you're waiting in line when the polling place is set to close, you'll still get a chance to vote. So, if you're in line as the polls are about to close, don't leave.
Of course finding your polling place and being on line while they're open is very important, but what if for some reason you can't make it to your designated polling place? Well, hope is not all lost. Laws vary from state to state, but according to USA.gov, if you show up to vote at a polling place that you haven't been assigned to, then you will need to cast what's called a "provisional ballot." If issues arise, like a person's name is not on the poll list, or the voter doesn't have the correct ID, then the polling place is required to give that person a provisional ballot instead a of a regular one, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Those ballots, however, are not counted with the regular ones. They are held aside and first investigated — within a few days of the election — before being counted with the rest of the votes. If you cast a provisional ballot, the polling place will give you information you need to find out if your vote was counted. But, in order to avoid your vote not counting, try to make it to your given polling place.
Now that you have the logistics pretty much down, you should know about a very important right that extends across every state: the right to vote without being pressured or influenced into a decision. Every state has a freedom in voting stipulation included in their voter bill of rights that protects voters and their right to choose a candidate on their own. For instance, new York's Voter's Bill of Rights states that it's your right to "cast your vote, free from coercion or intimidation by elections officers or any other persons." So, if someone is trying to pressure you to vote a certain way at your polling place, tell someone. This decision is up to you.
Voting is a super important privilege, and now you can go on and cast your ballot knowing the extent of your rights. So, there's no reason to be anxious. Rock your vote!