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What to Do If You Are Turned Away from the Polls

Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Tuesday is Election Day in the United States, where many states have reported problems at the polls in the early voting period.

If you arrive to cast your vote and are turned away, there is action you can take to contest the decision.

Laws vary by state, but many require voters to show government-issued identification and addresses and signatures that match what's on file with the elections office. The laws are aimed at preventing voter fraud.

In South Carolina, a non-photo identification such as a bank statement with name and address or other document that does not necessarily have a photo, is accepted. Using this categorization for laws that are in effect in 2018, 17 states ask for a photo ID and 17 states also accept non-photo IDs.

If you believe you are turned away unfairly, one of the things you can do is ask for a provisional ballot.

"People should never be turned away," Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project, told UPI. "They're entitled to a provisional ballot. Insist on it. It's a good stop-gap and backup tool if it can't be settled at the polls."

A provisional ballot is a real ballot, but polling places will simply hold onto it until you prove you're registered and eligible to vote. Provisional ballots are factored into the total when the final vote is canvassed.

The nonpartisan Election Protection coalition has established a hotline voters can call to report problems (1-866-OUR-VOTE). 

Experts also recommend finding your polling place in advance. At the website, you can find your polling place and check your registration status.

The number of voters turned away has increased dramatically since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013. Before that, states had to get the Justice Department's approval before changing election requirements. Now, nearly half of all states have new laws without the need for federal review.

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