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What to Do If You’re Turned Away at the Polls (TL;DR: Cast a Provisional Ballot)

by Countable | Updated on 11.2.18

You’ve waited in line, maybe for hours (maybe with free pizza), only to reach the ballots and be told you’re not on the voter roll.

Could happen—in the last few years, almost two dozen states have placed restrictions on voting, and there are at least four states where voting restrictions may impact the 2018 election.

Even if you’re registered to vote, you may still find yourself purged from the record. Here’s what to do…

Double Check If You’re Registered

Head to Countable’s Voter Center, click on your state, and enter your info.  

Know Your Voter ID Requirements

Not all states require an ID to vote. To find out whether you need your ID, and what kind of ID you should pack, click here.

Tell the Poll Monitor “But I voted in three other locations with no problem”

Don’t. This is why I wasn’t allowed to cast a ballot in 2016.

Vote – No Matter What

Even if you don’t have a valid form of voter ID, your registration is pending, or you find you’ve been purged from the voting rolls, you are still allowed to cast a provisional ballot.

Some states may, instead, have you sign a sworn statement saying you meet your state’s voting requirements and allow you to cast a regular ballot.

Remember, your right to vote is protected by federal law:

“If an individual declares that such individual is a registered voter in the jurisdiction in which the individual desires to vote and that the individual is eligible to vote in an election for Federal office, but the name of the individual does not appear on the official list of eligible voters for the polling place or an election official asserts that the individual is not eligible to vote, such individual shall be permitted to cast a provisional ballot...” §15482, CHAPTER 146, TITLE 42 OF THE 2009 UNITED STATES CODE

Who Can I Complain To?

If you experience voter intimidation, contact:

  • The Election Protection Hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
  • The U.S. Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline: 800-253-3931; TTY line 877-267-8971
  • Local and state officials, including poll workers; your county clerk, elections commissioner, elections supervisor; or your state board of elections

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / YinYang)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(55)
  • John
    Voted Angry
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Demand a provisional ballot. Take a photo of it for proof. Get the names and photos of those working and denying you the vote. Contact the ACLU through their app and report the encounter. Don’t leave until you have voted. DO NOT ALLOW THE FASCISTS TO STEAL THE ELECTION!

    Like (51)
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  • Marc
    Voted Excited
    11/02/2018
    ···

    But everyone who casts a “ provisional ballot “ needs to remember that they have to go back to the clerks office ASAP to prove that they are legally registered and who they are!!

    Like (31)
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  • Mindful
    11/02/2018
    ···

    DON’T LEAVE-get a Provisional Ballot...and VOTE!

    Like (12)
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  • Leon
    Voted Apathetic
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Incredible amount of hate in the comments. #walkaway

    Like (5)
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  • Lance
    Voted Happy
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Most states have laws on the books on how to handle this

    Like (2)
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  • burrkitty
    Voted Excited
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Fortunately the WA voting system makes this a “other states problem” but honestly I feel really sorry for you guys. I’m going to be sad to leave Washington where I can not only trust, but personally verify that my ballot has been accurately counted. AVR, paper ballots, vote by mail. IT IS THE BEST!

    Like (21)
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  • samiam6
    Voted Angry
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Disband the Republican Party for un-American activities. Revoke their charter? Whatever it takes. These people are acting like Nazis.

    Like (15)
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  • TexasTRex
    11/03/2018
    ···

    Get registered. Vote early. No worries.If there is a problem on early voting you’ll find out and have time to get it fixed.

    Like (6)
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  • Keith
    Voted Apathetic
    11/02/2018
    ···

    I live in a small community where everyone knows everyone. Never had such a problem in my 40 years of voting. I can see problems with people who relocate. I voted when I was deployed overseas with no problems.

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  • Charlene
    Voted Happy
    11/03/2018
    ···

    When I went to the polls for the 2016 primary, after voting at the same polling spot for the previous three elections I was told I was not on the register.( I had canvased for Bernie Sanders ) I filled out a provisional ballot and found they were not used in the election. Hillary won that primary and we later found there was a purge of voters... That should have all been investigated and straightened out be for the presidental election but they just plowed right through . Really to vote feels like a waste of trying but I feel I need to do what ever I can to contribute and keep hope for democracy alive

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  • Pamela
    Voted Angry
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Republicans are stopping people from voting! Know your rights!

    Like (13)
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  • SneakyPete
    Voted Excited
    11/03/2018
    ···

    ONLY NATIVE BORN/NATURALIZED CITIZENS HAVE VOTING 🗳 RIGHTS Additionally, what’s of even a greater concern is that of unauthorized individuals having the ability’s of casting an illegal vote which will, I’m sure bring up the issue of voter identification and the consistent Democratic False claims of Voter intimidation or suppression. * Double Check If You’re Registered Head to Countable’s Voter Center, click on your state, and enter your info.   * Know Your Voter ID Requirements Not all states require an ID to vote. To find out whether you need your ID, and what kind of ID you should pack, click here. * Tell the Poll Monitor “But I voted in three other locations with no problem” Don’t. This is why I wasn’t allowed to cast a ballot in 2016. * Vote – No Matter What Even if you don’t have a valid form of voter ID, your registration is pending, or you find you’ve been purged from the voting rolls, you are still allowed to cast a provisional ballot. If you experience voting issues contact: * The Election Protection Hotline: ‪1-866-OUR-VOTE‬ or ‪1-888-VE-Y-VOTA‬ (en Español) * The U.S. Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline: ‪800-253-3931‬; TTY line ‪877-267-8971‬ 11*2*18 ...... 🗳. SneakyPete ....

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  • Bobbi
    Voted Excited
    11/02/2018
    ···

    I hope this information is broadcast far and wide and if this country were truly a democracy there would be signs to this effect posted at every single voting location, in every single federal building, and on every single website that is funded by any kind of state or federal money. What the GOP is doing to voting in this country is a travesty and a disgrace.

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  • Robert
    Voted Excited
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Then how do you know the P-Ballot will count?

    Like (9)
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  • Joseph
    Voted Excited
    11/03/2018
    ···

    As a former election poll observer from 2000-2016 I have always told anyone I talk to to do this. Before you go to vote look online for the telephone numbers of your local election officials, some areas have a city or county clerks office that only deal with voting and elections same people you send your registration to vote. Write all the telephone numbers on a piece of paper along with the telephone for which ever political party your affiliated with in your state. If you get no where with your local officials call your state party office in most states your state party office have lawyers on call on Election Day that can make phone calls for you to your local official and polling place once they get a call from a lawyer they will allow you to vote rather than face criminal charges for election tampering. So make a list of all those numbers have them with you when you go to vote.

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  • Lynne
    Voted Excited
    11/02/2018
    ···

    NO ONE SHOULD BE TURNED AWA!!! Taxation’s without Representation!!!

    Like (5)
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  • Kevin
    Voted Excited
    11/02/2018
    ···

    I’m not worried about being turned away and if you are a legal US citizen you have nothing to be worried about!! Is this a democrat app? They are trying to instill fear into American citizens!!

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  • John
    Voted Excited
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Happily, I voted early and haven't yet had this issue, but I'm glad to know about casting provisional ballots.

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  • LeanneCSarco
    11/02/2018
    ···

    It's protected by the Constitution!

    Like (4)
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  • Ben
    Voted Excited
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Any person who restricts others from voting should be hanged

    Like (3)
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  • Richard
    11/02/2018
    ···

    Hopefully people contact the ACLU.

    Like (3)
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  • James
    11/03/2018
    ···

    I’m not entering any personal info into Countable! I’m five minutes from my city hall where I registered!

    Like (3)
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  • Dave
    Voted Angry
    11/02/2018
    ···

    You’ve waited in line, maybe for hours (maybe with free pizza), only to reach the ballots and be told you’re not on the voter roll! Sue the state and the person in charge in a class action for voter fraud! Demand jail time for them! They need to do there job!

    Like (3)
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