Tiny Troubleshooting Manual: Safely Voting in the 2020 General Elections Edition

Hi folks! Welcome to the follow-up installment of the Tiny Troubleshooting Manual, a series I made up in 2018 and we still need in 2020. I do a lot of social troubleshooting in my day-to-day work as an advocate, and though my ordinary bag is social determinants of health, civic engagement is more important now than ever! Obviously I cannot fix all forms of voter suppression or all issues created by the pandemic, but I wanted to take the time to address some of the more common fixable problems people encounter while voting.

(Note: This guide is not intended to be legal advice; rather, it is a resource compilation designed to point people towards appropriate entities for assistance.)

If your trouble is…

  1. Needing to identify your polling place or nearest voting drop box: You can check that by going to 866 Our Vote’s election protection website at 866ourvote.org and clicking on your state or by going to Headcount.org.
  2. Needing to check if you’re registered to vote: You can check that at vote.org or by selecting your state on the 866 Our Vote election protection website.
  3. Needing a mask, PPE, or other health-related accommodation to stand in line: Some programs, like the Election Defender program I’m volunteering with this year, will provide masks, hand sanitizers, and other pandemic-related supports to people on the line at polling locations. Look for people wearing gold outside of your polling location.
  4. People are engaging in illegal voter intimidation or electioneering outside of your polling place: This is another issue that the Election Defender program has sent volunteers to address. Look for people wearing gold outside of your polling location. Poll workers can also assist with these issues if they’re made aware that they are happening.
  5. Needing info on who and what’s on your ballot: You can get good, detailed information on your specific ballot at BallotReady.org or at HeadCount.org.
  6. A technical issue at your polling place: Call the Election Protection Hotline run by 866 Our Vote (which, conveniently, is 1-866-OUR-VOTE) to document the issue and see if it can be addressed today in real time. You may also be able to work with staff at your polling location to get it addressed.
  7. Needing time off from work to vote: Thirty different states require an hour or more of leave time be provided on request on Election Day; you can learn more about your state’s rights at WorkplaceFairness.org and get assistance in exercising your rights by contacting the Voting Rights branch of your local ACLU or 866 Our Vote.
  8. Needing an absentee or mail-in ballot: You may have missed the boat on this, but  866 Our Vote will have information on your state’s deadline if you click on your specific state. Many states have more expansive remote voting programs this year due to the pandemic, and most drop box locations are accepting ballots today. DO NOT MAIL IN YOUR BALLOT TODAY if you still have one; please drop it off at an official election drop box, which you can confirm online at 866 Our Vote’s site.
  9. Something else went wrong with your registration: Check whether your state will permit same-day registration; fourteen states and the District of Columbia do!
  10. Election protection information generally: Check out the resources at 866 Our Vote’s site. You may be noting a trend here–they are an excellent resource!

If you have an additional question, feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me directly! I’ll try to keep this a living document or at least point people in the right direction. 

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