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Problem Voting? Here’s What to Do

Ready, set….VOTE.

But if you have any trouble voting, there is help.

Call 1-866-OUR VOTE (1-866-687-8683) for the voter’s hotline administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, if any action or condition you feel prevented or was intended to prevent you from voting. Just a few examples include polls opening late or closing early, “running out” of ballots or having your identity or voter registration status improperly challenged.

You should also report any action or condition you feel made it difficult for you to vote, including but not limited to; lack of handicapped accessibility and accommodation, lack of assistance for people with limited English ability, confusing ballots, lack of privacy while voting, or generally unhelpful or unknowledgeable poll workers or officials.

For immediate situations such as a ballot which marks the wrong candidate without you being able to correct it should be reported before you finish voting. Stop what you’re doing and get a poll worker (and watcher, if there is one) and show them the problem. Refuse to finish the ballot while you call the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. There are no special forms to use or procedures to follow–just call 1-800-253-3931.

If, for some reason, you can’t do those things and decide to finish the ballot, recruit some witnesses to the situation. Take photographs if it’s allowed. Write down precisely what happened – no detail is too tiny. Get a witness to write down what they observed. After the election, send copies of your documents to the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Washington, D.C.

About Jill Kuraitis

Jill Kuraitis is an award-winning journalist who specializes in news of Idaho and the Rocky Mountain West. Her B.A. in theatre management is from UC Santa Barbara, and she went on to work in theatre, film, and politics before writing became a career. Kuraitis has two excellent grown children and lives in Boise with her husband of 30 years, abundant backyard wildlife, and two huge hairy dogs.

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