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FAQ

  1. What is provisional voting, and why do we have to do it?A: Provisional voting was a requirement of the Help America Vote Act (“HAVA”). Generally, a voter whose name does not appear on the List of Registered Voters or who does not present one of the acceptable forms of ID may vote a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is not counted until the voter’s eligibility is verified after the election.
  2. What if my polling place is not accessible to a voter using a wheelchair? Who do I call/notify?A: Contact the political authority that hired you if a polling place is not accessible. All polling places are required by federal and state law to be accessible to voters with disabilities. For an ADA polling place checklist, please click on Printable Resources of this training curriculum.
  3. What should I do if I run out of paper ballots?A: Please keep track of the number of ballots you have during the Election Day. If the number gets low, contact the political authority that hired you immediately to request additional ballots. While you wait for the additional ballots, you may need to create “emergency ballots.” You may create emergency ballots by copying the sample ballot and then number and sign each emergency ballot. Number the ballots beginning where the printed ballots leave off.
  4. What if a voter who does not have a disability wants to use the DRE, can they?A: Absolutely. The DRE should be available to any voter, but priority should be given to a disabled voter.
  5. A candidate has come into the polling place and told me that there are several voters who want to vote from the curbside. Should I eject the candidate from the polling place? Will the voters really be permitted to vote while sitting in the candidate’s car? If it’s okay for a candidate to drive people to vote curbside in carpool groups, does the candidate have to take the oath of assistance as a consequence of having driven the voters to the polling place?A: If a voter is physically unable to enter the polling place without assistance or likelihood of injury to his or her health, he or she is entitled to curbside vote. One election official may deliver a ballot to the voter at the entrance or curb of the polling place. In this instance, poll watchers and inspectors must be allowed to accompany the election official. The voter must be qualified by the election official before receiving his or her ballot. If a voter is physically unable to enter the polling place, and is also eligible for voter assistance in marking his or her ballot (any voter who is physically unable to mark his or her ballot, or any voter that cannot read the ballot), they are entitled to assistance. A voter can choose any person (except the voter’s employer, or agent of that employer, or officer or agent of the voter’s union). They can choose the candidate to assist them, or a candidate can assist curbside voters, but the candidate will need to take the Oath of Assistance each time they render assistance. The candidate, or anyone else, does not have to take the Oath of Assistance just to drive people to the polls, even if s/he is driving a carload.
  6. If a voter hasn’t moved, but the address on a voter’s driver’s license doesn’t match the address on the poll list, does that mean the voter has to use a provisional ballot?A: No. If a voter produces a Texas driver’s license as proof of identification, the address on the driver’s license does not have to match the address on the poll list. The purpose of the driver’s license is to provide confirmation of identity, not confirmation of residence.
  7. Can I give instructions at the booth?A: You should give voters instructions before the voter leaves the qualifying table, but if a voter requests assistance at a voting booth, you may review instructions at the booth.
  8. What do I do if I run out of forms, or my election supplies are running low?A: Contact the authority conducting the election for additional supplies.
  9. What do I do if a voter is talking loudly on their cell phone in the voting booth?A: Politely inform them that the use of cell phones in the polling place is not allowed, as it is disruptive to voters. Ask them to finish their conversation later.
  10. What do I do if my election equipment isn’t working?A: Contact the authority conducting the election immediately.
  11. What if a poll watcher is being disruptive? What do I do?A: A presiding judge of a polling place has the authority of a District Judge on Election Day to enforce order and preserve the peace, including the power to issue an arrest warrant. You may ask the poll watcher to leave. If s/he is being disruptive and does not follow your instruction to leave, call law enforcement to assist you.
  12. What do I do if a candidate, that is not voting, nor assisting a voter, keeps coming into the polling place and asking how many voters have voted?A: A candidate that is not voting, or rendering assistance is not entitled to enter the polling place. Kindly ask the candidate to step outside of the 100 foot distance markers, reminding him/her that you will be posting that information periodically throughout the day on the Notice of Voters Who Have Voted During the Day.
  13. What happens if a fight breaks out in the polling place?A: Contact your local law enforcement, or call 911 for assistance.
  14. What should I do if a voter says they don’t need help, but then they go over to the voting booth and stand there forever? In other words, they really don’t know how to use the voting device. Should I approach them, or wait until they ask for help?A: There’s not an official time limit in the voting booth, but if the amount of time spent in the voting booth seems extraordinarily long, you may want to approach the voter to ask if they need assistance on using the voting equipment.
  15. What if a voter doesn’t understand how to cast the ballot, can I touch the voting buttons for them?A: You should never touch the voting buttons, unless the voter cannot press the button and has asked for assistance. Follow the procedure for assisting a voter.
  16. Can I give instructions, for instance how to use the voting equipment, to a group of voters standing in line, or do I need to do it individually, one on one?A: Yes, you can give a group of voters standing in line a quick lesson on how to use the voting equipment. You don’t have to do so one-on-one.
  17. What happens if a voter has cast their ballot, and then they change their mind, telling me that they really meant to vote for someone else? What do I do?A: Explain to the voter that once the ballot is deposited, whether it be in the ballot box in the case of paper ballot, or electronically, once the voter presses the cast button, there is nothing that can be done. That vote has been cast and it is too late to change their mind. If the voter changes his/her mind after marking the ballot but before casting it, you can use the “spoiled ballot” procedure to eliminate that ballot and issue a new blank one to the voter.
  18. How long do I have to stay at the polling place to allow voters to vote, if there is a huge line at the close of the polls?A: Everyone who is in line at 7:00 p.m. when the polls officially close must be allowed to vote. You must stay until the last voter has cast hi/her ballot.
  19. If we are not finished hand counting at 10 p.m., can we just come back and finish the next day?A: No, you cannot just come back the next day. Texas law requires you to continue counting until all of the votes have been counted. If you are unable to finish the count by 2:00 a.m., you must call the political authority that hired you by 12:00 midnight. They cannot close until their election returns have been reported 100% of the precincts.
  20. What happens if the voting equipment all breaks down—can we just close the polling place?A: No, you can never just close down a polling place, unless ordered to do so by a court of law. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If your equipment breaks down, immediately contact the authority that hired you, and they will give you instructions on how to continue to process voters. You will need to go to emergency ballot preparation procedures, which will vary depending on the voting system being used. Remain calm, patient, and always keep the lines of communication open to notify the appropriate authorities.
  21. If we arrive late at the polling place to set-up (8 a.m.), can we just stay open later, until say 8 p.m.?A: No. By law, the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If something happens and you know that you are going to arrive late to your polling place, notify the political authority that hired you immediately. You should also have the telephone numbers of your fellow election officials working the polls with you and notify them immediately as well.
  22. If there is a huge long line of voters, can we just hand out ballots to everyone waiting in line to speed up the process?A: No. Never hand out ballots to voters waiting in line. Remember that in a paper ballot situation, a voter is entitled to pick up their own ballot from the acceptance table—never hand a voter a ballot. And in an optical scan situation, same rule, the voter picks up their own ballot.
  23. What should I do if someone takes my distance markers?A: Contact the authority conducting the election immediately to report the incident and ask that additional distance markers be brought to your polling place.
  24. Do we start helping a disabled voter, or should we first ask what they need assistance with?A: The disabled voter will let you know if they need assistance. Never assume that every person needs, or wants, assistance. As with every voter, make yourself available for assistance, but do not hover.