03 Nov Cancer is a legal issue: Vote.
In case you weren’t aware, today is election day. There are many issues on ballots all over the country that will impact the cancer community. While much of election law is well established, we are coming across confusing and sometimes incorrect information online. Because people are already feeling unprecedented levels of stress these days, we wanted to share some accurate and practical information about voting today.
Several states allow for day-of registration. This means that even if you weren’t registered to vote before today, you can go to what would be your polling place and register on the spot.
- Find what the rules are about same-day registration in your state.
- Not sure where your polling place would be? Use this polling place locator to find your polling place.
Who are these judges?
In many place judges are elected positions. However, most have never heard of these people until we see their names on the ballot. If you are curious about judge’s qualifications, many local and state bar associations release non-partisan judicial voting guides (hint: google your city/state + bar association + judicial voting guide)
In the hospital?
Many states even have provisions that allow people who are in the hospital to vote.
Patient Voting is a non-partisan organization to increase voter turnout among registered voters who are unexpectedly hospitalized in the days and weeks prior to the presidential election on November 3, 2020.
We are still in a pandemic and there are certainly reasons to feel scared about going to polling places. If you requested a mail in ballot and still haven’t returned it by mail, many states have ballot drop boxes that are outside. Additionally, in most states friends or family members can drop off your ballot for you, just make sure to follow the specific rules in your county (e.g., many states require that both you as the voter and the person dropping off the ballot sign the back)
Another thing that may be scaring you are the reports of possible intimidation at polling places. If you are concerned, take a friend, and be prepared with phone numbers of who to call to report any improper behavior (see below for non-partisan groups you can call). You may even want to save the numbers as contacts in your phone so you don't have to rely on having internet access to Google.
Voting with a disability
There are certain additional rights that are available to individuals with disabilities.
- In every state you have the right to bring someone with you to the polls to help you vote. The rules are different in each state as to who that person can be, so be sure to check before you head to the polls.
- If there are long lines and you have a physical or mental health condition or disability that makes it difficult for you to stand in line, tell a poll worker.
- The Help America Vote Act, requires that every polling place have “at least one accessible voting system for persons with disabilities at each polling place in federal elections. The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, that other voters receive.”
- Make sure you know exactly what your state requires you to bring to the polls. There are 36 states with voter identification laws. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists the exact requirements for each one on its website.
- Take your cell phone if you have one. Not only can you pass the time standing in line, you can look up questions about ballot propositions, judicial rankings, candidate positions, and if needed, call one of the organizations listed below for asstiance.
- If you are in line when the polls close, stay in line, you have the right to vote. If you are being told to leave or denied the ability to vote, stay in line. Call your county board of elections, or one of the organizations below, immediately.
Have questions or concerns?
There are several organized efforts to protect elections. Here are a few:
Election Protection is a non-partisan group that can answer questions and help with voting issues. They provide asstiance in several languages. Call 866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683)
Vote411.org is a “one-stop-shop” for election related information, providing nonpartisan information to the public with both general and state-specific information about the election process.
Why is a cancer organization talking about elections, you ask? The answer is simple: cancer is a legal issue, and in recent years, a political one. The main message we share today the same as it always has been, your voice matters.
For more information about advocacy, visit https://triagecancer.org/advocacy. See you at the polls!
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