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Rules Around Polling Places

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 24, 2016 1:00 PM

The debates are done, the positions staked out, and most of the storylines have been written. And as one of the most contentious presidential elections comes down to the wire, there's not much left to do but vote. And as polarizing as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been, there's little worry of low voter turnout this year.

In fact, there's been less focus on polling numbers and more focus on polling places, with rampant allegations of vote rigging and voter fraud leading to a heightened interest in what goes down at the ballot box. Here's what you need to know when you go to cast your vote.

ID Check

All states want to ensure that only registered voters vote, and that the person casting the vote is who she says she is. That said, there are a wide variety of state voter ID laws, and there's been a slew of recent legislation and litigation surrounding these statutes. We took a look at all of it and put together a list of what you need to bring to the ballot box in order to cast your vote. A government-issued photo ID is ideal, but may not be necessary where you live. Find out what is before your go to vote.

General Polling Place Rules

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the actual location of the voting booth. Polling locations must be accessible to persons with disabilities, and you are permitted to bring someone with you if you need assistance reading or interpreting election materials. There is no campaigning permitted at polling places, and this applies to voters' attire as well. And some states may not be too thrilled with your ballot selfie.

Citizen Enforcement

So who enforces these polling place laws? In some cases, it could be you. Most states have poll watcher statutes that allow parties or candidates to appoint a certain number of election observers. Poll watchers must be certified, and while they are allowed to keep a list of voters and ask for proof of voter qualifications. Most states do not allow poll watchers to stop someone from voting -- they can only challenge votes after they are cast.

If you see violations of polling place laws, or if you feel your voting rights have been violated, contact an experienced civil rights attorney.

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