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November 06, 2018

What to do if you're turned away at the polls

Here's a quick guide of your rights and what you can do

Election 2018 Voting
Carroll - Midterm Elections Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Rich Garella, a volunteer with "866-OUR-VOTE" speaks with voters about their experience at the Engine 13 fire station in Francisville on Tuesday morning. The organization is run by Election Protection, a coalition of lawyers' groups and administered by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, places volunteers at polling locations throughout country to observe for voter intimidation and any conditions that may prevent people from casting their vote.

There can be a lot of confusion surrounding voter rights and what you can do if a poll worker says you cannot vote. 

First of all, it is your legal right to vote. Even if your registration is pending, you can still vote. Voter intimidation is a serious offense and a violation of federal law, so the best thing you can do if you think your vote is being threatened is to act as your own advocate. 

If a poll worker cannot find your information in the system, ask them to check elsewhere — on supplemental or statewide lists, for example — for your name. 

According to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, if your name is not in the pollbook, officials should call the County Board of Elections to determine if you are registered. 

If they still cannot locate your information, ask for a provisional ballot. All voters are entitled to this. 

A provisional ballot is a paper ballot that will be checked after Election Day to make sure you are actually a registered voter. If you are, your vote will be counted.

If your vote is still challenged, Pennsylvania allows you to sign a challenge affidavit that says you can vote if you bring a witness to vouch for you.

In Pennsylvania, you can report any shenanigans at the polls to The Committee of Seventy or to the Department of State. You can also call the Department of Justice's hotline at 1-800-253-3931. You can find other local officials, like your District Attorney's Office, here.

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