Voter Intimidation: Know Your Rights!

Bruce Maples
Bruce Maples
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In most elections, we would not feel the need to post a story about voter intimidation. However, with emotions running so high this year, and with Trump calling for random people to show up and “watch what’s happening,” we believe it is important for every voter to know what to do if they are the victim of voter intimidation. Read the article, then [thrive_2step id=’2389′]get the downloadable PDF of all our election information articles[/thrive_2step].

The American Civil Liberties Union has a great site on this topic. Much of this article was taken from there, and supplemented with information from our Secretary of State’s site and a few other sources. Our thanks to all!

What Is voter intimidation?

(from the ACLU) If someone is interfering or attempting to interfere with your right to vote, or with anyone else’s right to vote, that may be voter intimidation and a violation of federal law.

Voter intimidation is not common. But here are some examples:

  • Aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications to vote, in a manner intended to interfere with the voters’ rights;
  • Falsely presenting oneself as an elections official;
  • Spreading false information about voter requirements, such as an ability to speak English, or the need to present certain types of photo identification (in states with no such requirement);
  • Displaying false or misleading signs about voter fraud and the criminal penalties related thereto; and
  • Other forms of harassment, particularly harassment targeted towards non-English speakers and voters of color.

Is voter intimidation illegal?

Yes. Federal law, and many states’ laws, prohibit voter intimidation. Federal law makes clear 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.”

If I suspect voter intimidation, who can I report it to?

  • Start with the poll workers inside the polling place. They should have been given instructions on what to do in the case of suspected voter intimidation. You can also contact the county clerk for your county.
  • You can call the Kentucky State Board of Elections at 502-573-7100, or the Attorney General’s Election Fraud Hotline at 1-800-328-VOTE.
  • You can also call the ACLU’s Election Protection Hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
  • There is also the U.S. Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline: 800-253-3931; TTY line 877-267-8971.

What should I do if I see or receive deceptive information about an upcoming election?

(from 866OurVote) Call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The hotline captain will ask the caller to make copies of all documents and fax a copy of the deceptive documents to 877-303- 5034. The hotline captain will report the incident to the local County Supervisor of Elections and local media contacts so that the correct information can be shared with voters. We will share the documents with the Supervisor of Elections and relevant authorities.

What do I do if someone challenges my qualifications to vote?

First of all, you can only be challenged by an official poll worker or by a designated poll challenger. You cannot be challenged by another voter.

If your qualifications to vote are challenged, but you are listed as registered, you can give a sworn statement to the pollworker that you satisfy the qualifications to vote in your state, and then proceed to cast a regular ballot.

What do I do if I’m not on the list of registered voters?

(from the ACLU) Always ask the pollworker to double check to whether you are not on the regular list of registered voters. If you are not, then ask if there is a supplemental list of voters (sometimes, voters who register closer to Election Day are processed after the pollbooks are printed, and then subsequently placed on a supplemental list of registered voters). You may also request that they check a statewide system, if one is available, to see if you are registered to vote at a different polling place.

If they still cannot find you, ask for a provisional ballot. All voters are entitled to a provisional ballot, even if you are not in the pollbook. After Election Day, election officials must investigate whether you are qualified to vote and registered; and if so, they must count your provisional ballot.

How does Kentucky handle provisional ballots?

(from the SOS site) You can vote on federal offices on a provisional ballot in federal elections if you live in the precinct and you find yourself under one of the following circumstances:

  • Your name does not appear on the precinct roster and the registration status cannot be determined by the precinct officer.
  • Your name does not appear on the precinct roster and you have been verified as ineligible to vote.
  • You do not have identification.
  • You are voting as a result of a federal or state court order or any order under state law in effect 10 days prior to Election Day which extends polling hours.
  • You have been challenged by all four precinct election officers.

If you want to check if your provisional ballot was counted or not, please go to the Kentucky state board of elections Provisional Voter Information page. https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/provweb/

What ID do I need to vote in Kentucky?

Personal ID is required, but photo ID is not required in Kentucky. Acceptable forms of ID include a personal acquaintance of the precinct officer, or a document such as a driver’s license, Social Security card, credit card, or another form of ID containing both a picture and a signature.

Are people allowed to campaign in or around the polling place?

Campaigning inside of a polling place is not allowed. Outside of a polling place, campaigning is permitted — but must be at least 300 feet from the polling place.

Can the media be inside the polling place?

Members of the news media are allowed in the polling place for a “reasonable and limited period of time.” After a reasonable time, election officials can ask the media to leave.

Other information to know:

  • Election Hours: Polling places are open 6 AM to 6 PM (local time). Everyone in line by 6 PM is allowed to vote.
  • Time Off to Vote: Employers must allow employees up to 4 hours paid leave to vote during their regular work shift. This time is unpaid unless specified otherwise by the employer.
  • Help With Voting for Persons With Disabilities: Kentucky is required to have a voting machine in each polling place that allows anyone with a disability to cast a ballot free of outside assistance. Nevertheless, if you need assistance due to physical disability, blindness or an inability to read English, you may request voting assistance at the polls on Election Day. Physical disability and blindness are the only two reasons you may apply to the county board of elections for permanent voting assistance. You may receive assistance from someone of your choice or the two election officers at the polls. You may not be assisted by your employer, the employer’s agent, a union officer or agent of your union. For more information, you can utilize the American Association of People With Disabilities (AAPD) resource.
  • Taking Pictures: Do not record the identity of other voters in the voting room, including through the use of cameras and cell phones.
  • Saying Thanks: Remember to thank your poll workers. This election would not be possible without them, and they deserve our appreciation.

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Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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