When elections are fair, voters are respected and every legitimate vote is counted. Unfortunately, some voters are misled, become confused, or get turned away at the polls. Sometimes the cause is a lack of good information; sometimes political groups purposefully deceive people they don’t want to vote – it has happened here in North Carolina.
Bad rumors, good advice
Here are some examples of false rumors: You can not vote if you have unpaid traffic tickets, or unpaid child support, or a criminal conviction in your past, or defaulted on your mortgage – these are all false. Here is a list of 20 facts that will make voting easier for you and also correct the most common myths and rumors.
Your voting rights
Click here for a one-page list of your basic voting rights in NC. For example, if you vote with a paper ballot and mark it wrong, you can return it to the election official and receive a new ballot. (Print out this Voting Rights page and take it with you when you vote.)
If you get a phone call, receive a mailing or hear announcements with misinformation that seems aimed at confusing voters, please call the toll-free North Carolina Election Protection hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE (888-687-8683). Report as much detail as possible about the message, when and how it was delivered, etc. You can also call this NC hotline if you have a problem when you vote during the Early Voting period.
Election Day hotline
A national network of voting rights groups operates an Election Protection hotline on Election Day during major election years. They have attorneys who can respond quickly to voter complaints and to activities that suppress voting, such as a police road block near a polling place. If you have a problem voting on Election Day, call the national Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).
Prevent voter suppression
The national Election Protection website also has information about efforts by political groups, non-profit organizations and legislators to adopt procedures that would make voting harder or easier. Democracy North Carolina has information on its website about legislation in this state that would create new barriers to voting – and what you can do to protect the voting rights of all citizens.
Spread the word
Anything that intimidates, discourages or confuses potential voters is bad for democracy. Help people feel good about voting. If you believe you were mistreated when you voted or if you spot other problems, call the national Election Protection hotline 866-OUR-VOTE, Democracy North Carolina’s hotline 888-OUR-VOTE, or the State Board of Elections toll-free number 866-522-4723. Please include these phone numbers in any guide you are preparing.
What if I have a problem? What is a Provisional Ballot?
If the election officials can not find your name on the list of registered voters when you go to vote, or if you encounter any other problem, you have the right to receive what is called a “Provisional Ballot.” You will have to fill out a form in addition to your ballot; the form helps the officials research your registration history. If your eligibility to vote is verified, your ballot will count like a regular ballot. You will be given a phone number and PIN number or a website to use to check the status of your Provisional Ballot and learn if it has been approved or rejected.