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Voting: Laws that let you take time off work to vote, polling locations and other things to know

Voting: Laws that let you take time off work to vote, polling locations and other things to know
Posted at 3:12 PM, Nov 05, 2018

When it comes to voting, laws, deadlines and Election Day minutiae vary state-by-state, and there's some important things to know before you head to the polls.

Here's a rundown of some important questions (and answers) for voters.

Can I take time off of work to vote?

The answer will vary depending on your state, but in short, yes. Almost every state has laws in place to prohibit employers from firing employees who take time off to vote.

Voting guide: What you should do (and not do) as you prepare to head to the polls

However, it's important to note this doesn't necessarily mean it will be paid time off. 

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations offers details on what your state allows. Check out the laws here.

Can I vote if I am a convicted felon?

Once again, this will vary by location, but there's four basic groups each state falls under, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: states where felons never lose the right to vote (even when incarcerated), states where felons only lose the right to vote while incarcerated, states where felons lose the right to vote during the duration of their sentencing (includes parole and/or probation) and states where the right to vote is lost until a post-sentencing waiting period is complete or some other additional action takes place.

You can find what your state's laws are here

Do I need ID to vote?

About two-thirds of states require some form of identification to vote and about half these states will want a photo ID as opposed to a non-photo ID, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, etc.

You can find out more about your state's voter ID laws here

Oops! I forgot to register to vote. Can I still vote on Tuesday?

The following states allow people to register to vote and vote all in one day on Election Day: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, California and Hawaii.

You can read the nitty gritty of the rules and requirements here

How do I find my polling location? has a really easy tool to use to find a polling location near you. You can find it here

Help! I'm being turned away from the polls even though I am a registered voter.

Don't panic. There are lots of reasons why you could be told you're not allowed to vote, from your name not being on a list of registered voters to not having the correct ID. In several states, if your right to vote is challenged, you can give a sworn statement that you satisfy the qualifications to vote in your state, and then proceed to cast a regular ballot, the ACLU says. And if all else fails, you can ask for a provisional ballot. 

The ACLU has a handy guide on this topic if you want to know more.

What if I don't speak English or have a disability that may prevent me from voting?

There are tons of helpful resources for folks who may have trouble casting their vote, whether it's because of a language barrier or a disability. 

Here are some hotlines you can call if you are a non-English speaking voter who needs help at the polls: 

Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA

Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US

Asian & Pacific languages: 1-888-API-VOTE

Also, you are allowed to bring someone into the voting booth with you if you need help, whether it's because of a language barrier, reading or writing difficulties or a disability. The person just can't be your boss or labor union representative. And poll workers should be well aware of this right, but in case they aren't you can use this handy flyer here to explain the situation. 

What if I think my rights are being violated at the polls?

If you run into an issue at the polls, call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE or the Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline at 1-800-253-3931.

What if I need more help that isn't listed here?

You can find even more voting tips here.

Susan Gonzalez is a digital producer and reporter for the E.W. Scripps national team. Follow her on Twitter @TheNewsan.