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Top 8 Voting Myths Dispelled
Myth No. 1: I will be turned away from the polls if I wear an Obama or McCain shirt.
NOT TRUE. You can't be turned away from the polls, but you may be asked to cover the parts of your clothing that are advertising your candidate. Certain states -- such as California, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and New York -- restrict anything that can be considered campaign material within 50 to 150 feet of voting sites. If you've got questions, contact your state election official to find out the exact rules in your state, or, just be sure to bring an extra shirt or sweater for when you place your vote.
Myth No. 2: If something goes wrong -- I'm not on the voter rolls, forgot my ID, recently moved -- I can't vote.
NOT TRUE. You may need to take an oath affirming you're a citizen, and that you live where you say you do. But keep in mind that the burden of proof is on the person making the challenge, not you. If your right to vote is being challenged for any reason, call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) to get immediate legal advice. You can also request a provisional ballot from poll officials.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) states that voters who believe themselves to be eligible, despite being identified as ineligible at the polls, can cast a provisional ballot. In 2000, many voters in Florida were taken off the rolls if their names were similar to a list of convicted felons. That meant that, because "S. Burris" was a felon, Sarah Burris, Sue Burris and Sam Burris were denied their voting privileges. HAVA was passed in response to this flagrant violation of voting rights and now requires that all voters, regardless of name, are given a provisional ballot upon request.
Myth No. 3: If I registered to vote through ACORN, my registration is not valid.
NOT TRUE. While some ACORN voter registrations are being investigated, if you provided accurate information, your registration is valid. In case you encounter problems, call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) or be sure to request a provisional ballot.
|Important Election Day Info:|
2. What are the hours of my polling place?
3. How do I know what identification I need to bring with me?
4. Where can I get a phone number for my local election official?
5. How can I vote absentee?
6. What if someone denies me the right to vote on November 4th?
*Sources: Nytimes.com, CNN.com, and Rock the Vote.
Myth No. 4: Absentee ballots don't count and are only used as tie-breakers.
NOT TRUE. Like provisional ballots, absentee ballots count as a regular vote in every state.
Myth No. 5: If you register to vote under your school address, you will be dropped from your parents' health insurance or lose financial aid.
NOT TRUE. In a recent Time Magazine report, officials in Montgomery, Virginia, Greenville, South Carolina, and El Paso, Colorado told students that their health care and financial aid would be in jeopardy if they were to cast a vote. There was just one problem with these warnings: They were entirely untrue. Time reports, "[A]ccording to youth-voter advocates and the IRS... these dire warnings were incorrect."
Myth No. 6: I can't vote because I recently moved, or the address on my driver's license is different from my current address.
NOT TRUE. The driver's license is strictly used to verify a voter's identity, not place of residence. State law requires that you vote in the precinct in which you live. If you're not sure where your polling location is, visit Vote411.org or Google Maps. If you end up at the wrong location, poll workers can direct you to the correct precinct.
Myth No. 7: If I have any unpaid parking or traffic tickets, warrants, unpaid child support or receive food stamps or welfare, I can't vote.
NOT TRUE. Fliers claiming absurd things like this pop up almost every election year. They weren't true then, and they aren't true now.
Myth No. 8: If I have been convicted of a felony, I can't vote.
MISLEADING. Each state has its own process, but only two states -- Kentucky and Virginia -- deny the right to vote to all ex-offenders. To find the specific laws in each state, check out this short and simple guide (PDF) put together by the Sentencing Project.
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