Here’s What You Can Do if You Experience Voter Intimidation this Election Season

November 4, 2022

Here's what you can do if you see or experience voter intimidation this election season

No matter who you are, where you live, what you look like, or which candidate you support, you have the right to participate in our democracy without being harassed at the polls. 

With complaints and threats about voter intimidation on the rise throughout the country, we wanted to provide a quick guide to what you can do if you experience intimidation while trying to cast a ballot. 

Remember: Voting is a protected right—and voter intimidation is illegal. 

A Little Background on What We’re Facing in the Midterm Election

The first thing to know is that after the 2020 election and the false “Big Lie” narrative (that the 2020 presidential election was stolen), voter intimidation is part of a coordinated, nationwide effort to undermine the vote and cast doubt on our election system. A right-wing nonprofit has actually launched a coast-to-coast plan to staff election offices with Big Lie partisans and recruit like-minded poll workers and watchers, along with local citizens, to relentlessly challenge voters, votes, and elections officials.

At the same time, states led by Republicans, like Florida, have created “election police” to “investigate” (nonexistent) “voter fraud.” In Florida, that seems to mean disproportionately harassing voters of color. Let’s be honest and call the “election police” what they really are: Voter-intimidation squads. They’re just another way that anti-voter politicians are trying to weaponize the Big Lie and use government resources for their own political gain.

Bottom line: Right-wing politicians are trying to make it so hard for you to vote precisely because of how important your voice and your vote are. We’re hoping that understanding your rights and knowing what to look out for will help make casting a ballot as easy as possible. It’s never been more important to be a voter and make your voice heard!

What Does Voter Intimidation Look Like?

According to the ACLU, here are some typical examples of voter intimidation you might experience at your voting location. 

-People aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications to vote.

-Someone falsely representing oneself as an elections official.

-People displaying false or misleading signs about voter fraud and related criminal penalties.

-People engaging in other forms of harassment, particularly those targeting non-English speakers and voters of color.

-People spreading false information about voter requirements. Just to be totally clear:

-You do not need to speak English to vote, in any state.

-You do not need to pass a test to vote, in any state.

-Some states do not require voters to present photo identification.

What You Can Do If You Experience Voter Intimidation

If you experience any of the above, or if something doesn’t feel right when you’re waiting to vote, speak up!

-Report intimidation to your local election officials. 

-Call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (see below for additional language options).

-Depending on your state, if someone questions your ability to vote, you may be able to provide a sworn statement to a poll worker saying that you meet all state requirements, and then proceed to cast a ballot.

Know Your Rights!

No matter what anyone may tell you while you’re trying to vote, these are your rights as a voter:

-If the polls close while you’re still in line, stay in line—you have the right to vote.

-If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for a new one.

-If the machines are down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot.

-If you run into any problems or have questions on Election Day, call the Election Protection Hotline:

English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683

Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682

Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US / 1-844-925-5287

For Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683

Your Vote Is Your Voice

It’s a federal crime to “intimidate, threaten, [or] coerce … any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of [that] other person to vote or to vote as [they] may choose.”

In Georgia, you can volunteer to help protect access to the ballot.

Find out more about voter intimidation and how you can take action wherever you live!