With all of the voter ID laws being passed, appealed, and postponed lately, it is easy to get confused over what our rights are as we prepare to cast our ballots in November.
In the past two weeks alone, South Carolina’s and Pennsylvania’s voter ID laws, which require voters to present photo ID, have either been blocked (as was the case with Pennsylvania) or postponed (as is the case in South Carolina) until after the elections.
The operative word being after.
And what if you are a felon? What are your rights in this instance? Then there is the “voter suppression” issue we’ve all heard about. What if someone challenges your right to vote? What do you do?
Some advocacy groups fear that many citizens will go to their local voting precincts unprepared to vote because they will not know what documents they need to bring, whether a neighboring state’s voter ID laws apply to theirs, or how to challenge an official who says that they are not eligible to vote.
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But NewsOne has interviewed several legal and voter rights experts from various organizations to help arm readers with the knowledge needed to ensure their voices will be heard next month.
Below are three common questions people have about their voting rights:
1. How Do New Voter ID Laws Affect You?
It depends on where you live. Most states do not have voter ID laws.
If you live in South Carolina or Pennsylvania, you do not need a photo ID to vote this November. Federal judges in both states blocked legislation that requires citizens to show a photo ID during the November elections.
“They can ask you for ID, but they can’t prevent you from voting,” says Corinne A. Carey assistant legislative director at the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Another concern Carey says the Civil Liberties Union has is that voters in New York, for example, may believe voter ID legislation in Pennsylvania applies to their state. This is simply not true, she says. New York state does not have an ID requirement for voters.
The best thing any voter can do to help avoid any confusion is to know the laws and document requirements of his or her state before Nov. 6.
You can call your local Board of Elections and someone should be able to help you understand what ID, if any, you will need to bring with you on Election Day.
For a breakdown of states and their individual voter ID guidelines, click here.