It’s Election Day, and you’ve decided you’re going to vote in person. You get there and — choose your own adventure — maybe the power is out at the building or there aren’t enough paper ballots or poll workers, or poll watchers somehow interfere with ballot casting.
There are only so many options voters have. Wait; or leave and come back later if your schedule allows for it. Planning for the unforeseen could be helpful.
Many voters will see no trouble at all casting a ballot. For others, new voting procedures in some states and the effects of persistent falsehoods about former President Donald’s claims about losing in 2020 are already having an effect.
WHO DECIDES HOW TO HANDLE DISRUPTIONS?
Elections in the United States are decentralized, with county and local officials across 50 states responsible for carrying out the balloting and tabulating votes. So where a disruption unfolds will determine which official decides how to handle it.
In Wisconsin, where Trump and others were quick to inaccurately allege fraud, poll workers are preparing for potential disruptions as part of their training.
WILL MY VOTE COUNT?
Election watchers and civil rights advocates point out that voter intimidation, which could include aggressive questioning about citizenship status, is illegal. They advise looking up your state officials and reporting such behavior.
If you’re at the polling place where you believe you’re registered but are being turned away you can request a provisional ballot, which will be counted after officials determine your eligibility to cast a ballot.
Also, don’t get out of line if you’re already in it when polls close, experts say, because you should still have the opportunity to cast your ballot.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
There’s nothing like a good plan, experts say.
Voters are facing new congressional maps this year after redistricting, so making sure you know who you’re voting for up and down the ballot is key, says Jeanette Senecal, the League of Women Voters’ senior director of mission impact. Also, if you can, try to head to the polls at off-peak times, like the late morning and after lunch.
“Checking your name, avoiding the crowd, knowing what’s on your ballot — all of those things can help voters have a less stressful, easier Election Day experience,” she says.