It’s Election Day! As an American citizen, it’s your right to go out and vote in your local election today on issues that can improve your overall safety, whatever that means to you. It’s important to know your rights and feel comfortable while you’re at the ballot, regardless of what stance you are behind.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, voter intimidation at the polling place is illegal, and can be reported.
Personal safety at the polls is a feeling we should all experience, and should not be undermined by another citizen. Here’s a guide on what to do and how to report voter intimidation.
What is voter intimidation?
Federal law states that “no person… shall intimidate, threaten, coerce… any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of [that] person to vote or to vote as he may choose.”
Although voter intimidation is not that common, it can still happen. If another person is trying to disrupt your right to vote, they are violating a federal law.
Signs of voter intimidation:
- Aggressively questioning voters about their qualifications to vote, like their citizenship
- Disguising themselves as an election official
- Spreading or displaying fraudulent information about voter requirements
- Other acts of harassment
What do you do when someone challenges your voter qualifications?
Laws are different according to state. However, in most states, you can provide a sworn statement to the pollworker that you meet voter qualifications and cast your vote anyway.
What options do you have for reporting intimidation?
You can directly call into the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE, or the U.S. Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline: 1-800-253-3931. You can also report it to your local and state officials, like a poll worker, county clerk, elections commissioners, election supervisor, and state board of election.
If the police or any law enforcement officers are present at your polling place, it’s best to report an incident of harassment with them first.
It’s your civic duty as a citizen to vote without any obstacles in your way. Happy voting!