The 2022 midterm elections will take place on November 8, with a number of issues — like abortion access, inflation, and immigration — and a handful of high-profile races — in , , , and — top of mind for voters. However, access to the polls has never been more fraught: As Vox’s Fabiola Cineas reported, 18 states had passed 34 new laws restricting voting as of May. With this in mind, knowing how and where to vote, and what to expect — including your rights on Election Day — has never been more important.Before Americans cast their ballot, they’ll want to make sure they’re registered to vote, know where their polling place is, and what forms of identification to bring with them (if any). Here’s what you should know about voting in this election.
Register to voteYou must be registered to vote before stepping into the voting booth. (, which does not have voter registration.) Some states, like California, Washington, Michigan, and Maine, allow at the polls on Election Day. Other states require anywhere from 10 days (Massachusetts) to 30 days (Alaska, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio) ahead of the election. The has a tool that lists election deadlines, including for voter registration, by state. Depending on where you live, you can register online, in person at a local election office, or by mail. Vote.gov has state-by-state resources on . , you must be a US citizen, at least 18 years old by Election Day, and meet your state’s eligibility requirements. In some states, people y do not have the right to vote. that lists voter requirements and registration options (including registration forms) for each state. If you can’t remember whether you’re registered to vote, . For people who moved, or changed their name or party affiliation, since the last election, you’ll need to . You can change , by mail, or in person the same way you would to register. If you moved to another state, you will need to re-register in your new state.
Ways to voteHow much flexibility you have about when and where you vote depends on where you live. Voters can cast their ballots in person on Election Day, , or by mail (also referred to as voting absentee). Some states — like California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — . Voters in states like and must give a reason to vote by mail, like being too sick to vote or not being in the country. Be aware of both the deadlines for requesting a mail ballot and for postmarking it in order to be counted; you can find both dates by selecting your state on the . Either mail your ballot in via USPS or . If you are traveling or have to work a long shift on Election Day, you may want to vote early in person. vary from state to state (and even county to county) and can begin as early as 45 days before the election ( like in ). Check to see your and where you can cast your vote before Election Day. For in-person voting on Election Day, you can find your polling place on your state’s board of elections website, which you can . All you’ll need is to enter your name and/or address. Most states have laws allowing employees to take time off to vote, but . For example, workers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Wisconsin are not paid for time off to vote. Other states, including Idaho, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia, . Workers in states like Maryland and Oklahoma must show their employers proof that they voted or attempted to vote. A final method of voting is via a . This occurs when a voter’s name is not on the voter roll but the person believes they are registered. They can cast their vote on a provisional ballot that won’t be counted until the registration status of the person is confirmed after the polls close. and the voter may have to confirm their address or other information. The are when the voter is not registered in the state they are trying to vote in, or they are in the wrong jurisdiction.
Who’s on the ballot?Aside from races for governor, Senate, and House of Representatives, you may also be voting for the lieutenant governor, state attorney general, secretary of state, state legislators, judges, mayor, district attorney, city council, and ballot measures. You can look up a sample ballot on to find out which candidates are running for which seats in your district. Ballotpedia also explains the wording and interpretation of ballot measures, which can be difficult to parse. To find out where these candidates stand on important issues, you can check their campaign websites, read local news coverage, and tune in to debates.
What to expect on Election DayBefore you show up to your polling place, double check the While it differs by state (and even by county), most polling stations open between 6 and 9 am and close between 6 and 9 pm local time. Remember, if you are still in line when the polls close, . Once inside, you’ll check in with a poll worker who will find your name on the list of registered voters. If the poll worker says they , ask if they can check a statewide list or help you make sure you’re at the correct polling place. If they still can’t find your name, ask for a provisional ballot. Some states require voters to show identification prior to voting — like Indiana and Wisconsin — or ask that first-time voters show ID. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists the . The poll worker will then show you to the and tell you how to cast your vote. you may have. can ask for a chair to sit in, a quiet place to wait for their turn to vote, and to use a voting machine that assists those with vision and mobility disabilities — every polling place must have at least one. Voters with disabilities and who have trouble reading and writing English can also bring a family member or friend to offer assistance. If anyone questions you about your citizenship, your criminal history, your ethnicity, your race, the language you speak, or your education level, that’s voter intimidation — and it’s illegal. Other include violent behavior inside and outside the polling place, blocking the entrance of a polling place, displaying weapons, threats of violence, and spreading false information of voter fraud. , “if your qualifications are challenged, you can give a sworn statement that you satisfy the qualifications to vote in your state, and then proceed to cast a regular ballot.” , whether you yourself experienced it or you witnessed it, to your local election officials and the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español).
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