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Being turned away at the polls is no laughing matter.
The 2016 presidential election marks the first without the protections of the Voting Rights Act in place. Confusing, restrictive, or unclear voting laws in states like North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi have cropped up as a result. A total of 14 states have more restrictive election laws than they did in 2012, including brand new voter-ID requirements.
What do you do if you witness an act of voter suppression take place, or get turned away at the polls yourself? The first step is to call your local election officials—they’re the ones with the immediate ability to assist you. You can find your local election office through the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s Local Election Office search.
Second, be sure to make some noise on Twitter. Provide photographic evidence of your polling place and explain your problem (i.e. you were asked for a form of ID that wasn’t required). Be sure to follow @elec_ballots (compiled by University of Michigan) for a list of Twitter accounts for county- and state-level election officials, state-level Leagues of Women Voters, and state-level political parties.
Then immediately call one of the hotlines below, where you’ll be connected with a lawyer or elections expert who can assist you. Be patient—many of these groups will be tied up on Election Day. Try several times until you get through, if necessary.
ACLU Voter Protection Hotline
Election Protection Hotline
A coalition run by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, this hotline is also useful if you have questions on anything from finding your polling place to registering to vote.
You can also tweet at them at @866ourvote
Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division
You can reach staff members of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to report complaints related to possible violations of federal voting-rights laws.
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund
APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice
If you see long lines, voter intimidation or problems with ballots while you’re out today, text ELECTIONLAND AT 69866 and let us know.
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) November 8, 2016
ProPublica’s ElectionLand project is covering voter access problems in real-time.
Amrita Khalid is a technology and politics reporter who specializes in breaking down complex issues into practical, useful terms. A former contributor to CQ, a Congressional news and analysis site, she's currently a master's candidate in international relations at the University of Leeds.