Know your rights as a voter before heading to the polls - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Know your rights as a voter before heading to the polls


Before you head to your polling place Tuesday, you need to make sure you know your rights as a voter.

Can you still cast a ballot after 7 p.m.? Can a friend or family member help you mark your ballot? Is your employer legally required to let you off work to go vote? We have those answers and more.

If finding your polling place is a challenge in itself, know many Texas counties are trying to make finding that information as easy as possible.

"You can go to our Smith County website where you can type in your address or you can just point to a place on the map and it'll tell you where to go vote," says Adrienne Hampton, a spokesperson for Smith County.

There are a variety of rules at the polling place, including no cell phone use and no party or candidate promotion.

"Campaign buttons or stickers, anything that's advocating for one side or the other is not allowed," Hampton says.

However, you do have a lot of rights there, too.
If you're physically unable to enter the polling place without potentially hurting yourself, an election official can bring you a ballot at the curb.

If you cannot read the ballot or can't mark it yourself, anyone you choose can help you do that, regardless of that person's residence, citizenship, voter registration status or age. However, employers are not allowed to assist their employees in voting.

If you're helping someone cast their ballot, you're legally allowed to do these things:

  • read the ballot to the voter
  • direct the voter in reading their ballot
  • mark the voter's ballot according to their instruction
  • direct the voter where to mark their ballot

While the polling places close their doors at 7 p.m., you don't necessarily need to have voted by 7 p.m.

"If the line is really long at 7 o'clock and you're already in it, it's ok. As long as you're in line at 7 o'clock you will get to vote," says Hampton.

A question few people know the answer to: Is your employer required to give you time off work to vote on election day?

The answer: It depends on your schedule.

If your work day does not give you two consecutive hours off while the polling places are open, it's a Class C Misdemeanor for your employer to keep you from casting your ballot or threatening to penalize you for leaving.

The entire Texas Elections handbook for 2012-2013 can be found HERE.

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