Believe it or not, Election Day is less than a month away. On Nov. 8, people all over the country will make their voices heard as they cast their ballots to vote for a number of candidates and issues. Whether it is your first time or you’re a veteran of the polls, you may have a few questions about voting, especially if you have recently moved or otherwise changed your circumstances. You don't want burning, but answerable, questions to keep you away from the polls.
Here are five of your biggest voting questions answered, just in time for Election Day.
1. Where's My Polling Place?
Depending on how you registered to vote, it may be unclear where your polling place is located. To find the place you should report to vote, click the following link that corresponds to your state. Each link takes you to the state’s agency responsible for managing elections. You’ll find all you need to vote in the right place.
2. I’m Not Familiar with Some Candidates and Ballot Measures. How Can I Learn More Before Election Day?
Why don't people vote? There are many reasons, among those is a feeling of apathy or lack of knowledge, often found in certain groups of voters, about the issues and candidates. Also, it's already October, so why bother, right? Well, luckily, there are a wealth of resources out there to answer all your questions about anything or anyone who will be on a ballot.
To become more acquainted with the candidates and their positions on key issues, check out the handy non-partisan On the Issues.
Of the states with ballot measures to appear on the ballot on Nov. 8, you can familiarize yourself with them below:
- Florida 2016 Ballot Measures
- Georgia 2016 Ballot Measures
- Pennsylvania 2016 Ballot Measures
- Alabama 2016 Ballot Measures
- Arkansas 2016 Ballot Measures
3. Am I Required to Bring an ID When I Vote?
Depending on the state and your voter status, you may have to bring some form of ID with you to be allowed to vote. All first-time voters who have registered online or by mail must bring identification to the polls, according to the federal Help America Vote Act.
A total of 32 states have laws either requesting or requiring voters to show ID for those who have voted in the past. It’s essential to know exactly what type of ID is necessary to vote on Election Day, especially if you have recently moved to another state and are unaware of your new state’s ID requirements.
You can see where your state falls under voter identification laws in effect for this year’s election below.
No ID Required: New York, Pennsylvania
ID Requested, But Photo Not Required: Kentucky, Arkansas
Photo ID Requested: Florida, Alabama
Photo ID Strictly Required: Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee
In Kentucky, ID in the form of a social security card or credit card will suffice, whereas Arkansas allows a student ID, employee badge, public assistance ID, and other non-photo proofs of identity.
In the case of states that strictly require photo ID, you will be given a provisional ballot if you do not have what they deem acceptable ID when voting. If you do not show acceptable ID within a few days after the election, your provisional ballot will not be counted.
4. I Have a Disability. Will I Have Access to Vote in My Polling Place?
Yes. Your right to vote as a person with a disability is protected by civil rights legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination while voting, participating in jury duty, and taking part in other aspects everyday life as an American.
One of the many ways that the ADA ensures equal opportunity to people with disabilities is by requiring state and local government to provide accessible polling places. This includes accessible parking for people with disabilities, accessible routes into and out of the polling site, polling stations wide enough to allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver in and out, among other design solutions.
5. I Have to Work. Will I Be Fired for Taking Time off to Vote?
There is no federal law mandating that employers give workers special paid or unpaid time off to vote. However, some states do have such laws. These state laws determine whether the time is paid or unpaid, how far in advance the request must be submitted, and more, according to Workplace Fairness. That said, most, but not all states, bar an employer from firing or disciplining a worker because they took time off to vote.
Find your state below for a quick look at the law.
Florida: There is no law requiring employers to give time off to vote.
Georgia: Employers must give up to two hours time off to vote.
Mississippi: There is no law requiring employers to give time off to vote.
Tennessee: Employers must give up to three hours time off to vote, unless the employee's shift begins more than three hours after polls open or ends more than three hours before polls close.
Kentucky: Employers must provide up to four hours time off to vote.
New York: Employers have to give as many hours at the start or end of a shift as is necessary to give the employee enough time to vote, when taking into account time not spent working. Up to two of those hours is paid, and time off is not required if the employee has four consecutive non-work hours before or after a shift while polls are open. Employees must make sure to let their employers know they intend to take the time off — not more than 10 or less than two business days before Nov. 8.
Pennsylvania: There is no law requiring employers to give time off to vote.
Alabama: Employers must give one hour of time off to vote, unless the employee's shift starts at least two hours after the opening of the polls or end at least one hour prior to the closing of the polls.
Arkansas: Employers must set schedules on election days in a way that enables all employees to be able to vote.
For more information, check out our post dedicated to the issue of working and voting.
If you haven't registered to vote yet, you might not be able to. In most of the nine states listed above the deadline just passed. However, voters in Florida are in luck: A federal judge just extended the deadline by a week to Oct. 18. New Yorkers still have until Oct. 14.
By learning everything that you need to know about voting before Election Day, you might be able to approach the polls with more confidence. Remember, your vote is your voice, and by voting, you can affect change both on national and state levels and within your community.
Note: This is the first in a series of Election 2016 posts Morgan & Morgan is offering this fall. Stay tuned for more, covering issues such as how federal law makes sure people with disabilities are able to vote and what protections are in place for workers who need to get in late or leave early in order to vote. But first, our next post is about how Latinos can this year reverse the low turnout percentage of 2012, when only half of eligible Latinos voted in that election.