Voting in Person on Election Day

Find out when and where to vote and what to bring with you on Election Day. Learn about accessibility rules for voters with disabilities.

Election Dates

Election Day in the U.S. is the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Many state and local races will be decided on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, but you may be able to vote early or by absentee ballot.

State and local elections, including primary and special elections, can be held at other times throughout the year. Check with your state or local election office or with an organization such as the U.S. Vote Foundation for the dates for upcoming elections in your area.

Federal elections are held every two years, on even-numbered years. Mid-term elections for seats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will be held in November 2018.

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Find Your Polling Location

Cast Your Vote

You can cast your vote in local, state and federal elections in several ways.

  • Vote in person at a polling place or polling station
  • Vote by mail if you are unable to go to your registered polling station because you are temporarily living in another place, are in the military, or are overseas. 
  • Many states offer early voting so you can avoid the lines on Election Day. Learn more

 

Cast Your Vote at a Polling Place or Polling Station  

Polling locations are assigned by residential address. It is important that you go to your assigned location since your name will not be on the roster at any other location. Your polling place may change from one election to the next, so check before you go to vote.

Find Out Where to Vote

For the most updated information on your polling place and hours, or to request an accommodation, contact your state/territorial election office.

In addition, there are several tools online that can help you find your polling location, hours, and other details:

 

Voting at a Location That is Not Your Assigned Polling Place

  • Rules vary by state, but if you try to vote at a location other than your assigned location, you will generally have to cast a provisional ballot.
  • Voters with disabilities have the right to be assigned to an accessible polling place but may have to request it beforehand.

 

Report a Problem with a Voting Machine at a Polling Station

If you have a problem with your voting machine at your polling location, let your local poll workers know. You can also contact your state/territorial election office.

Contact the Federal Elections Commission or the U.S Election Assistance Commission for answers to your questions about voting, registration, voting assistance, polling places, voting machines, and ballots.

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Voter ID Requirements

Two-thirds of states request or require that you provide some form of identification before you’re allowed to vote at the polls.

Find Out if You Need to Bring an ID to Vote

Your state’s laws, as indicated by this state legislators' map, determine whether you will need to show an ID, and if so, what kind.

Photo ID versus Non-Photo ID

About half of the states with voter ID laws accept only photo IDs, such as driver’s licenses, state-issued ID cards, military ID cards, and passports. Many of these states now offer a free voter photo ID card if you don’t have another form of valid photo ID.

Other states accept certain types of non-photo IDs, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, bank statements, and utility bills. Each state is specific about the documents it will accept as proof of identification. Be sure you know your state’s voter ID requirements prior to Election Day.

You should also be aware that legal challenges continue to affect some states’ voter ID laws, and requirements can change as a result. It’s always wise to check directly with your state election office to ensure you have the proper ID.

Procedures for Voting Without ID

Even if you don’t have a form of ID that your state asks for, you may be allowed to vote. But some states require you to take additional measures after you vote to make sure that your vote counts.

Some states may ask you to sign a form affirming your identity. Other states will let you cast a provisional ballot, which is used when there is a question regarding a voter's eligibility. In some states, election officials will investigate the voter’s eligibility and decide whether to count the vote.

Other states require that you return to an election office within a few days and show an acceptable form of ID. If you don’t, your vote won’t be counted.

Name or Address Mismatch

Even if you have a form of ID that your state accepts, you may be required to cast a provisional ballot if the name or address on your ID doesn’t match the name or address on your voter registration. This may happen, for example, if:

  • You get married, change your last name, update your voter registration but present a driver’s license with your unmarried name.
  • You move, present a current utility bill as proof of ID but forget to update your address on your voter registration beforehand.

Additionally, some states require you to notify your local registration office of any change in your name to remain a qualified registered voter.

You can avoid problems by always updating your voter registration whenever you move and if you change your name.

First Time Voters

First time voters who didn’t register in person and haven’t previously provided proof of ID are required by federal law to show some form of identification.

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Sample Ballots

Sample ballots can be helpful to review before Election Day and to bring with you to the polls. Your state or territory may mail you a sample ballot prior to Election Day or allow you to download one from its election site. The sample ballot may look exactly like the real one you see when you vote and will show you all the races—federal, state, and local—and candidates you’ll be able to vote for, as well as any state or local propositions or measures being decided.

Some non-profit organizations also produce unofficial sample ballots for elections throughout the U.S., based on locality. These ballots may not look identical to what you’ll see when you vote but will provide the same information. They are different than the sample ballots often provided by the major political parties. Those ballots, which you may receive in the mail or be offered by volunteers as you approach your polling entrance, feature the candidates representing that party.

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Voter Accessibility Laws

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and other federal laws require that all Americans—including seniors and people with disabilities—have the same opportunity to participate in the voting process.

As a voter with a disability, you have the right to:

  • Vote privately and independently
  • Have an accessible polling place with voting machines for voters with disabilities

Specific requirements for physical accessibility of polling places include:

  • Wheelchair-accessible voting booths
  • Entrances and doorways that are at least 32 inches wide
  • Handrails on all stairs
  • Voting equipment that is accessible to voters who are blind or visually impaired

If you have a disability, you may either:

  • Seek assistance from workers at the polling place who have been trained to use the accessible voting machine, or
  • Bring someone to help you vote.

You can also ask your local election officials to tell you about other options available to you.

  • Some states offer “curbside voting,” in which a poll worker brings all voting materials to your car.
  • Some locations set up mobile polling places at long-term care facilities.
  • Local organizations often support people with disabilities by providing transportation to the polls and identifying the accessibility of polling places.
  • Many states offer absentee voting, so you can receive and return your absentee ballot through the mail.

Language Accessibility

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) helps people overcome language barriers to voting.

Federal law also allows you to bring another person to help you vote if you are unable to read or write.

For more information:

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Last Updated: October 23, 2017