Know Your Rights At The Voting Booth: From Selfies To Scare Tactics

Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
With less than a week to go, you think you've got everything you need to vote.

Your voter registration is in; you’ve prioritized your campaign issues, checked on what down-ballot races you need to know about, and picked the perfect Instagram filter for your post-voting selfie. All you have to do now is actually cast your ballot!

Hopefully, you’ll make it to the polls without a hitch. But you can’t discount the possibility that you’ll run into a snag — so it’s best to be prepared. The fact of the matter is that the law doesn’t just enshrine your right to vote, but also your ability to exercise that right.

Refinery29 talked to Julie Ebenstein, a staff attorney for the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, on what voters should know before they go.

“What I hate to see is people say, ‘Well, there's an ID law in effect and I don’t have an ID, so never mind, I just won’t go.’ Or, ‘My registration is not showing up on the state’s website, so something must have gotten messed up with my registration, I just won’t go,’” Ebenstein says.

Unfortunately, because each state runs its own election, your rights may change depending on where you live.

“For better or worse, it’s a patchwork of rules that apply nationwide,” says Ebenstein. She recommends going to your state’s election website in advance to brush up on what you need to know about IDs, polling places, and more. “The same as you would if you were going to a restaurant or doing anything else that day, just spending a few minutes to make sure you know where you’re going and you know what you need,” she says.

Oftentimes, problems can be worked out at the polls with a polite assertion of your rights. But if you need backup, you can reach out to the Election Protection hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE), which provides a resource for voters who need help or information. You can access the number now through Election Day.

And because we know you're all curious — only 22 states, plus Washington D.C., explicitly allow you to snap a selfie in the voting booth itself.

Ahead, here's what to know on Election Day.

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