There are several amendments to the United States Constitution that specifically focus on voting rights. There are also laws in place that are designed to protect your vote. Unfortunately, even though your ability to vote is considered a protected right, you could encounter attempts to prevent you from doing so. If you believe that your right to vote has been interfered with, here is what you need to know.
Can Your Right to Vote Be Violated?
Small barriers that are put in place on Election Day can sometimes discourage voters from casting their votes. It is important that you are able to identify those barriers so that you know which measures to take to ensure you are able to cast your vote.
One form of voter suppression is the use of threats or intimidation to prevent you and others from voting. Historically, certain groups were threatened with violence with voting. You are legally protected from this practice. Even an overly aggressive poll worker is considered a form of intimidation.
Another barrier you could face is being told you cannot vote because the polling place has closed even though you were standing in line. Poll workers do not have the right to turn you away as long as you were standing in line at the time the polls closed—even if that means you wait in line for a considerable time.
If you have a disability and the polling place is not equipped to accommodate any special needs that you have, this could be considered a violation of your rights. Polling places have a legal responsibility to ensure that there is a method available for you to cast your ballot regardless of disability.
What Can You Do?
One of the most important actions you can take prior to leaving for your polling place is to check your state's laws regarding voting requirements. If you are required to present certain documentation at the time you vote, you need to ensure you have it before arriving. You should also double check your registration. Many states offer online verification of registration.
If you are prevented from voting, ask for a provisional ballot. Federal law requires poll workers to provide the ballot in special situations. If you believe that you are being threatened by someone at the polling station, contact the police.
In the event that you do not get to cast your ballot, contact a civil rights attorney. You can file a lawsuit against your local or county election board for denying your right to vote. Your attorney can even notify the Department of Justice to ensure that others are not also denied their rights.