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Election Day FAQs

Your guide to negotiating Election Day madness

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So do I need an ID to vote or what?

No. Not unless this is your first time voting at your polling place.

But ... the TV said ...

We're telling you. There was a law requiring voters to display ID this November — but that law was put on hold by the courts. A poll worker will ask for an ID, but you do NOT have to show one, unless this is your first time voting at your polling place. If anyone tells you otherwise, wave this page in their face. (If you do have ID, bring it anyway. You can wave that in their face too, just to irritate them.)

This actually is my first time at this polling place. What do I need to bring?

You'll have to have identification — either with a photo or without. 

Acceptable forms of photo ID are:  PA driver's license or other ID issued by a state or federal agency; U.S. passport; military ID; student ID or employee ID. 

Non-photo ID must include your name and current address. Acceptable forms are: your voter-registration card; ID issued by state or federal agency; a recent utility bill or bank statement; a recent paycheck or government check; or a gun permit (very chic in some locations).

I've moved since the last time I voted, but I'm a slacker and forgot to change my address. What can I do?

You're allowed to vote at your old polling place one last time. But tell the poll worker so they can start the process of switching your voter registration to the new address.

How long are polls open? 

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you're still in line by 8 p.m., do not give up. Officials must allow you to vote if you're in line at 8 p.m.

How can I be sure I'm registered to vote, or find out where I'm supposed to go?

The easiest way is to go to www.votespa.com and click "confirm your registration" underneath the "register to vote" tab. Enter your name, county and date of birth, and the website will tell you if you're registered, and where your polling place is.

What if I get to the polls but I'm not on the voter list?

Ask the poll worker to check again, and to consult the supplemental list, which includes last-minute changes. You may be at the wrong polling place — it happens. If so, you can ask the poll worker for help, look it up at www.votespa.com as noted above, or call the county at 412-350-4500. If you're sure you're in the right place, get a provisional ballot (see below).

What if someone is trying to intimidate me, or telling me I don't have a right to vote?

Tell a poll worker. If the poll worker is the one giving you a hard time, tell a poll watcher (one of the volunteers both parties station at polling places to keep an eye on things). And call the hard-working attorneys at the Election Protection hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). 

If all else fails — if they want to prevent you from voting — demand a provisional ballot. That's a separate paper ballot that won't be counted until election officials determine whether you're eligible to vote. (This is a last resort: Provisional ballots are a pain in the ass, and are often tossed out for technical reasons.) 

What if I see shenanigans at the polls — like people deliberately slowing down lines by challenging other voters? 

Call the lawyers working at the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). And holler at City Paper while you're at it: 412-316-3342, ext. 182.

I just found out I won't be in town for the election. Can I still get an absentee ballot?

Yes, but hurry. You have to apply for it, and the county must have your application is 5 p.m. Tue., Oct. 30. Call the county elections office (412-350-4520) for instructions, or check out the www.votespa.com website.

I have been in a coma for 20 years, and this newfangled voting-machine technology frightens me. What can I do? 

You can see an animated demo of how these machines work by visiting http://tinyurl.com/pavotedemo and selecting the county you live in. The demos are a little cheesy, but that's democracy for you. 

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