We compiled a list of situations on Nov. 3rd that could jeopardize your vote, and tell you how to remedy them.
Voting in person will have an additional challenge this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Taking safety measures while casting their ballot will be a priority for many voters, but setbacks can happen.
Alex Barrio, policy and legislative director of the nonprofit organization Alianza for Progress, advises people to prepare in advance for voting on Nov. 3.
“The most recommended thing is that they make a list of what they have to bring,” Barrio told The Americano. “This includes a photo ID, mask, and black-ink pen.”
The director explained safety authorities are recommending that people bring their own pens to avoid contact. Barrio said making sure the pen has black ink is essential because the tabulator counting the ballots can only read black marks.
At the polls, other situations can occur that can prevent voters from casting their vote.
“These are the most important elections of our lives,” Barrio said. “It’s very scary to know what might happen. But just get up there and vote. You have a lot of options. You can request a vote-by-mail ballot, you can vote early, and you have Election Day. Make a plan—bring your family, bring your friends—it is so important.”
Here are some of the setbacks that can happen when voting and how to handle them:
When you arrive at the voting location, you will be asked for a photo ID to confirm your identity. For example, in Florida, people must present one of the following: Florida driver’s license, Florida identification card, United States passport, military ID, student ID, neighborhood association ID, public assistance ID, veteran health ID, a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm, or an employee ID from any federal government agency. If a voter left their ID at home, the best thing to do is go back and look for it. If you don’t have an ID, you may be given a provisional ballot. These get counted after the election and only in the event of a recount. “I recommend going back and getting the ID to make sure your vote is counted,” Barrio said.
Your Name Does Not Appear on the Registration List
Voters who don’t appear on the registration list should first check and make sure they are at the correct voting location. “You should have a voter registration card,” Barrio said. “If not, go to your Supervisor of Elections website and check your status—double-check if you are at the right location.” The director said if your registration is confirmed at that polling location, do not leave until you are allowed to vote. “Tell them you are not leaving until you get to vote with a regular ballot—not a provisional one. You have to call voter protection to find out what’s happening. If you are registered to vote, you have the right to exercise that right.” The number of a nonpartisan voter-protection hotline you can call is 866-OUR-VOTE.
Long lines are not pleasant, especially during a pandemic. Barrio said it is extremely important for people to stay in line to be able to cast their vote. In Florida, voting centers close at 7 p.m. “If you are standing in line at 7, they have to let you vote no matter how long the line is,” Barrio said. “Some people, in 2016, waited two or three hours to vote. So stay in line even if it gets to be 9 or 10 o’clock at night.”
If You Make a Mistake on the Ballot
If you make a mistake filling out your vote-by-mail ballot, you must go to the Supervisor of Elections office and surrender your ballot. “Every ballot has a barcode assigned to your name to make sure you won’t vote twice,” Barrio said. “They will disqualify that ballot and give you a new one, so you can vote again and get your vote counted.” If you made a mistake while voting in person, ask the poll worker at the desk to disqualify the ballot and give you a new one.
Unfortunately, there have been incidents where people intimidate others from the opposite party. “This is something we saw in Virginia weeks ago when early voting started,” Barrio said. “There were actually Trump supporters protesting and blocking the door for people to vote. As a result, all voters had to line up again at the back door. This is something you might have to deal with. To be honest, this has happened with Trump supporters this year.” Barrio said that if faced with that scenario, the best thing to do is avoid confrontation—do not talk to them. You can ask for help from police officers, a poll worker, or a legal-service attorney.
A Polling Location Runs Out of Ballots or Paper
Barrio indicated that a situation such as a polling place running out of ballots or paper should not occur. If this happens, he said, it would likely be a case of poor planning, as this year thousands of people requested vote-by-mail ballots. The poll centers have printers and are able to print more ballots if needed. “This situation would have to be intentional because they literally have the list of voters—they know exactly the amount of paper they’ll need,” Barrio said. “That’s voting suppression. Voters would need to call voter protection hotlines and reach out to attorneys and the press.” Barrio also recommends that people stay at the polls until they are able to cast their vote.
The System Is Down
Florida’s voter registration system was down last week, during the last hours on the last day of registration. That is the most recent issue the state has had with the system. Barrio confesses it is worrisome that history might repeat itself on Nov. 3. “That’s scary, because we know in 2016 Russian hackers attacked Florida locations in different counties,” Barrio said. “They tried to delete voter registrations and crashed the system. I hope we have a system in place where we are protected from that.” He explained that in the event of such a situation, the poll supervisor will have to manually process votes. As Once again, Barrio recommends that people remain at the polling center until they are able to vote.
Access for Disabled Voters
By law the polling center has to be accessible for people in wheelchairs, Barrio said. Poll workers are also trained to assist voters with various types of disabilities.