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Bob Hall: Tips for voting in primary

By Bob Hall

All the chatter about hacking voting machines and fake ads can be overwhelming, but don’t become confused or discouraged. Here are some tips so you can use your precious right to vote.

First, there’s a free hotline number to call if you have any question about where, when, or how to vote or if you experience any problem when you’re at the polls — 888-OUR-VOTE or 888-687-8683.

Second, you can preview your actual ballot by following the steps at demnc.co/lookup. You can take a list on paper or your cell phone into the polls to help remember your choices. But don’t talk on your phone, and no selfies! Photos are not allowed inside the polls.

Third, you can use any early voting location in your county to vote until February 29, but on March 3 be sure to go to your own precinct’s polling place. Find the hours and locations for early voting at ncvoter.org/early.  Find your March 3 voting place at demnc.co/lookup.

Fourth, you can register as a new voter in your county during early voting (not on Election Day).  It’s smart to use early voting because you can resolve any registration issue at that time and avoid the chance of bad weather on Election Day.

Fifth, you don’t need a photo ID to vote.  But if you register during early voting or if your registration was not fully verified, you’ll be asked to show an identifying document, such as a utility bill, government document with your name and address, or a student ID with a school document showing your address. It’s always good to carry an ID with you.

Sixth, if you have an outstanding traffic ticket, civil fine, or misdemeanor conviction, you can still vote.  A citizen convicted of a felony in any state may register and vote in North Carolina after serving his or her sentence, including probation or parole. No special document is needed.

Seventh, a near family member may help you vote at the polls. Voters with a disability or reading hardship may get help from anyone except their employer or union agent.

Finally, if your name doesn’t appear on the registration rolls or you have any problem when you vote, you should be offered a provisional ballot – ask for it and for a way to learn later if the ballot was counted or, if not, the reason why.

There are more tips at ncvoter.org in English and Spanish.

It’s against the law to intimidate voters or intentionally distribute false information about the voting process.  Remember, if you have any questions or problems at the polls, or see suspicious activity, call the nonpartisan voter hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE.

Hall is the former executive director of the Democracy North Carolina.

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