How Do Voters Make Sure They Are Ready to Vote?

There are some people who like to make it harder than necessary for others to vote. Voter-caging practices have already taken hold in this election in states such as Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia. So, if you're concerned about protecting your vote, there's no need to panic. The Root Explainer to the rescue...

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If there is any confusion, call up the county/city clerk's office for verification. Every state is required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to keep a current and accurate list of registered voters. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 mandated that each state maintain free and accessible databases for its registered voters to confirm registration.

However, these requirements are not always met. Some lists are inaccurate or incomplete. If you encounter a problem, you have to keep pressing.

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and its partners recently launched Election Protection, a Web site for voters to gain voter-registration information and to clear up any wrong information. Their hot line, 1-866-OUR-VOTE, provides live help for any voter, in any state. The volunteers on the hot line can look up voter-registration statutes and provide advice on how to navigate the state's election laws.

Before you go to the polls, get educated – know the rules. Twenty-four states require some form of identification. Seven of those, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan and South Dakota, require photo identification.

No ID? Walk into an Alaska or Arkansas precinct and flash a hunting license and you're covered. In other states, Social Security cards, credit cards and utility bills are acceptable, too.

Registration? Got it. Identification? Got it. Hand over the info to the poll worker, and now it's time to choose or lose.

"I'm sorry; your name isn't on the voting rolls."

Pause. Despite reasons of error, including data-entry mistakes or being kicked off the roll, it still may be possible for you to vote.

Call the precinct's election official or the Election Protection hot line to verify you're at the right precinct. If you are indeed in the right place, you have the option to vote on a provisional ballot, which is used when there is any question or problem with a voter's eligibility. After the election, a state official determines whether or not the vote can be counted. The state is required by law to provide a publicly accessible Web site or hot line for voters to see if their vote was counted.

It may not be perfect. But, when it gets down to the last nit-picking voter regulations, it's important to know the rules.

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