Two years ago, during the midterm election, problems reported to the Election Protection Coalition affected more than 275,000 Texas voters. To assist voters, Election Protection volunteers are spread out at polling sites across the state.
These volunteers will check the registration status for anyone told they aren’t on the voter roll, try to help a voter who is turned away from the polls, and will work to remove barriers to voting — ranging from people giving out wrong information to attempts at voter intimidation.
It’s important to know your rights when you go to vote, so that you can report any problems that remain unresolved.
Your Rights on Election Day
- If you make a mistake on your ballot, you can request a new one. You can receive up to two more ballots.
- If the voting machines are down, you can ask for a paper ballot.
- If a poll worker cannot find your name on the registered voter list, you have a right to cast a provisional ballot which will be counted after Election Day if an investigation into your qualifications and registration is conducted.
- First check the spelling of your name and spell it out loud again for the poll worker.
- If they cannot find you, ask if they have a supplemental list of names to check.
- Or ask if the worker can check the statewide registration list to see if you are possibly at the wrong polling location. (If they find your name associated with another polling facility, you will most likely need to go there to cast your ballot.)
- If they still cannot find your name or if there are reasons you cannot travel (no transportation or no time to reach the other location before polls close), you may request a provisional ballot.
- If you are in line when the polls close, you still have a right to vote. As long as you are in line by the closing time, the poll workers must allow you to stay to cast your ballot.
Voting While Trans
Transgender individuals know that unfortunately, sometimes just “walking while trans” is enough to elicit questions or suspicion about one’s identity. However, legally, you should have no issues “voting while trans” in Texas. There are provisions in place to ensure your rights.
- Your name on your ID does not need to match your name as listed on the voter registration roll. Per the Secretary of State’s office: “Voters do not need to show additional documentation if their names are identity or substantially similar. No voter should be turned away, and voters with substantially similar names should be offered a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot.
- Your gender marker on your ID does not need to match the gender listed on your voter registration. If a poll worker challenges you because of your gender marker, call the Election Protection hotline (below) for assistance.
- If your photo ID does not match your current appearance to the point that it is difficult for a poll worker to confirm that you are the same person in the phonto, you will likely need to cast a provisional ballot.
Reporting Issues and Asking for Help
The Texas Election Protection Coalition provides a group of voting rights experts and trained volunteers staff to six hotlines that Texas voters can call if they have questions or problems at the polls.
For instance, no one is available to assist a person who needs an interpreter or help because of a disability, these volunteers can help get the accommodations needed in place to vote. If a person is turned away or denied a provisional ballot after taking all the above steps to confirm their registration and their assigned voting location, they should call the hotlines. And certainly, if there are any attempts at voter intimidation or blocking of polling locations by protestors, voters should immediately reach out for help.
- 866-OUR-VOTE — English
- 888-Ve-Y-Vota — Spanish and English
- 888-API-VOTE — Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Bengali also known as Bangla, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Tagalog and English
- 844-Yalla-US — Arabic and English
- 301-818-VOTE — American Sign Language (Video Call)
- 888-796-8683 — Disability Rights Texas
The Election Protection Coalition is currently recruiting volunteers in a number of states across the country to help voters in 2020. Please note that volunteers must reside in the states where they want to volunteer. If you live in Texas and would like to help, use the links below.