Legal Matters: 10 Things To Know When You Vote
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
1. When you arrive at your polling place you will be asked your name and be asked to provide identification (See our column from last week for what's acceptable)
2. The poll worker will check to see if you are registered. If you are, you will be given a ballot.
3. Make sure you check the WHOLE ballot so you have the opportunity to answer ALL the questions and vote in all the races. The ballot will list all the candidates for each office and any referenda questions.
4. On the national level you will vote for President, U.S. Senator and one of the two congressional seats. There are a number of statewide and local referenda on the ballot, as well as seats for the general assembly and a number of local races.
5. Once inside the voting booth, you will vote by connecting the front and back end of the arrow. It is important to remember to complete the arrow. If you do not complete the arrow, your vote may not be counted.
6. In Rhode Island you can cast a straight-ticket party vote, i.e. vote for all candidates from any party. Remember, however, if you vote straight party, don’t forget to vote for the referenda.
7. NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY
If for some reason you are not allowed to vote, you will be allowed to vote by provisional ballot. There are two reasons why you may not be allowed to vote; you may not show up on the registration list or you may not have the correct ID.
If you do not show up on the registration list, you will be asked to fill out a voter registration form and a form that states you are registered and eligible to vote. You can then fill out your provisional ballot and seal it inside an envelope. You will receive a Provisional Ballot Receipt with your Ballot ID Number on it. Once you are determined to be eligible, officials will count your ballot. To see if your ballot was counted, you can check the state Board of Elections website 48 hours after the election.
8. If you are not allowed to vote because your identification is not accepted, you will also be given a provisional ballot. That ballot will be counted only if your signature at the polling place matches the one on your voter registration form. Again, you can check to see if your ballot was counted 48 hours after the election by going to the Board of Election website.
9. VOTE FOR THE WRONG PERSON OR TOO MANY PEOPLE?
It happens. Sometimes voters complete one arrow and mean to complete another. Or, they complete too many arrows. Don’t worry, it is not a problem. Simply let the poll worker know and they will have you complete a number of other arrows to invalidate the ballot. You will then be given a new ballot.
10. YOU CAN ASK FOR HELP
You can take anything into the booth that you need to help you vote and there are bi-partisan supervisors there who will help you if you need additional help. If you are blind, disabled or unable to read or write, the law allows you to bring someone into the voting booth but you will have to sign an affidavit.
The foregoing is offered for informational purposes only and is not legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.
Susan G. Pegden is a litigation associate with the Law Firm of Hamel, Waxler, Allen & Collins in Providence. She is admitted to practice in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Rhode Island Association of Justice (RIAJ) and a member of the Rhode Island Women’s Bar Association.
Sean P. Feeney is a partner with the Law Firm of Hamel, Waxler, Allen & Collins. He is admitted to practice in Rhode Island, Illinois and Wisconsin. Mr. Feeney is a former special counsel to the City of Providence, military prosecutor with the United States Marine Corps and Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California.
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