You did it. This is perhaps the most consequential midterm election in recent history and you registered to vote, researched the candidates and measures that will appear on your ballot, and are excited to make your voice heard at your local polling place. (You're even ready to grab some free food and drinks as a reward after participating in the democratic process. America!)
But before you head out to vote on Tuesday, we're here to remind you of five important things you should know before going to the polls. From ballot selfies to what to do if someone says you can't vote, we want you to be prepared so everything runs smoothly on Election Day. Read on and happy voting!
It's important to know whether you need to show a valid identification at the polls. Thirty four states currently have laws in place requiring voters to show some form of ID. The remaining 16 states use other methods to verify your identity, including biographical information or signature comparison. Go here for a state-by-state guide on ID requirements.
Posting an #IVoted selfie showing your ballot on Instagram sounds like a fun idea, but you should take a second before uploading it. This type of picture can get you in trouble in some states, so make sure to research whether you can snap a photo at your polling place. This handy guide breaks down which states allow ballot selfies and which don't.
Taking time off work to vote
Though there's no federal law requiring employers to offer workers time off to vote, at least 30 states have legislation in place allowing employees time off to cast their ballots on Election Day. Depending on the state, the time off can be paid or unpaid. Go here for a state-by-state workers' voting rights guide.
What you can wear
Electioneering (i.e. campaigning for a candidate or issue) near your polling place is banned in most states. Depending on where you live, that can mean everything from carrying your candidate's campaign signs to wearing political garb like a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of your political party. Ten states completely ban apparel related to candidates, issues, and political parties at or within a specific radius of the polls. But in other places, the rules are a bit murkier. To find out your state's laws, you should contact you local registrar’s office or visit the website of your Secretary of State.
If someone says you can't vote
Voter intimidation is unfortunately an issue during elections, so you should read this American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) guide.
If someone tells you you're not eligible vote, you should first check if you’re at the correct polling place. If that's the case and a poll watcher is still questioning your eligibility, you still should be able cast a regular or provisional ballot. Go here to find out how your state handles them. You can also call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) or the Department of Justice's Voting Rights Hotline at 1-800-253-3931.
There have been reports of extremely long lines, broken or not enough machines, and confusion at many polling sites across the country, particularly in Georgia. If you are facing problems at the polls you can call the Voter Protection Hotline at 1-888-730-5816 for assistance.