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How to make sure your vote counts in November

Experts offer a series of tips about how to prepare for Election Day and where to turn for questions or in case of problems at the polls.
27 Sep 2016 – 11:50 AM EDT

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Make sure you're prepared before heading to the polls in November. Crédito: Getty Images

This year, more than a dozen states have new laws in place that could potentially prevent Latinos from casting their vote.

There are other challenges, too: Latinos are the least likely of all workers to have paid time off and workplace flexibility. As a result, they use early voting more than the national average, though early voting has been reduced in some states. Plus, about 21% of eligible Latino voters aren't fully fluent in English, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

In addition, Latinos and other minorities are more likely to face intimidation, uninformed polling place workers, non-receipt of absentee ballots and long lines at the polls.

To make sure your vote counts, experts offer a series of tips about how to prepare for Election Day and where to turn for questions or in case of problems at the polls.


In some states, registration closes a month before the election, so it's important to register in advance, experts say.

Registering can be done online, in person or by mail.

If you're already registered or if you're not sure if you have, confirm your registration below. Also, if you've moved, you may have to update your registration or vote in your old polling place.


Some states have reduced the number of polling places or changed their locations, so it's important to find out where you have to go to vote, experts say.

More than 30 states have laws in effect that require or request IDs at the polls. Learn about your state's rules in order to bring the right ID when you vote.

Early voting allows voters more flexibility to cast their ballot on a weekend or outside of business hours. Absentee voting can also help voters with busy schedules.


Know who to contact

Run by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the Election Protection hotline was established after the 2000 election. Voters can contact the hotline for basic voting information, such as how to register or find a polling place, or if they encounter problems while trying to vote.

The main hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE, is now running from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST, and will be open extended hours and weekends in the coming weeks. Voters can also leave a voicemail and get a response in one to two business days.

Election Protection has also partnered with NALEO, which is running a bilingual English/Spanish hotline available at 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA, open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST year-round. A third hotline will provide assistance in seven Asian languages.

If voters encounter problems at the polls, experts recommend calling Election Protection immediately for assistance.

Get information ahead of time

Find out about local voting rules in your state, from where to vote to registration deadlines.

Know about the provisional ballot option

A provisional ballot is a "failsafe option, a last resort when someone is not able to cast a regular ballot," said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program. If a voter doesn't bring the proper ID or if poll workers can't find his name on the rolls, he should be able to cast a provisional ballot. The downside is that the voter must follow up with election authorities to make sure the vote was counted.

Still, experts advise voters to call the Election Protection hotline if they are offered a provisional ballot.

"If you are eligible to vote, try to use a regular ballot," said Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney and voting rights expert. "If you have to use a provisional ballot, you should get an information sheet and envelope about how you can see that your vote is counted."

Alert Spanish speakers about the right to a translator

"Throughout every part of the voting process, people can receive oral assistance in Spanish," said Culliton-Gonzalez. That includes election officials and poll workers, and if they don't speak Spanish, voters can bring anyone they wish into the voting booth to help them translate.

"The Voting Rights Act provides for that," added Culliton-Gonzalez. "Everybody has the right to a meaningful and effective right to vote; not just pulling a lever, but understanding who they're voting for."

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