Voting in California - what you need to know.

I just got back from training to be an Inspector, and I figured this would be an appropriate forum to share some common concerns people have had about voting:

1. Can I wear an Obama t-shirt/button/hat to the polls?
Yes/no.  California elections code considers that to be electioneering, which can be considered intimidating to other voters at the polls.  If you wear it, you'll be asked to cover it up or take it off, if it's a hat or a button, and if it's clothing, election officials (at least in San Francisco) have ponchos they can provide so you can vote without intimidating others.  You will not be turned away from the polls.

2. Can I observe voting at a precinct?
Yes.  However, you may not talk to other voters about your voting preferences.  If you talk to the pollworkers they will effectively say "no comment" as they're not allowed to divulge their political standing while working at the polls.  Additionally, please introduce yourself to the pollworkers as an observer; you're allowed to observe, but we cannot accept help.

3. Can the media film the polling place?
Yes, as long as they do not film someone actually filling out a ballot.  They also must present credentials in order to interview voters within the polling center.  They may not ask how voters voted; exit polling must occur at least 25 feet from the polling center.

4. Can I put up a sign at the polling center for Obama?
No.  It needs to be 100 feet from the door into the polling center.  If the polling center is within a building, it is 100 feet from the inside door, not the door to the building.

5. Am I required to bring ID?
If you have voted before, no.   Here are the requirements according to the Secretary of State
If you filled out registration without documenting ID, and you haven't voted in the county previously, you will be required to demonstrate ID.  If you know your driver's license number or the last four digits of your social, this information can be used in lieu of showing ID.  See the list for guidance.

6. Can I demand a paper ballot?
Depends on your jurisdiction.  In San Francisco, in order to make sure the voting is more smooth, we've been told to quietly not encourage use of the touch-screens, and only offer it if someone needs to use an audio ballot.

7. A pollworker at my precinct seems to be looking at/touching my completed ballot.  Is this legal?
If you asked for assistance, yes.  At that point the pollworker also needs to fill out a form stating that s/he helped with your ballot.

8. I've just been told I need to fill out a provisional ballot; does this mean my vote will be thrown out?
No! In fact, there's a receipt on each provisional envelope that has a trackable number that you can use to see if your vote counted, 40 days after the election.  It obviously doesn't tell you how you voted.

9. There's a long line at my polling place, can I still vote even if the polls have officially closed?
If you're in line at 8pm when the Inspector goes outside and shouts "The polls are now closed", then you're still entitled to vote.  If you show up at 8:01pm, you're out of luck.

Find out the rules and regs for your state prior to heading out.  Also, if you find that your registration is in a different place than you expected, or you run into difficulties, please please please please do not take it out on your election officials; we care just as much as you do about making sure you can exercise your right and responsibility in democracy in a fair manner.  If you do run into an election official who's not being helpful, you can always call the hotline posted at every polling center.

No on 8!  Obama/Biden!

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