While over 25 million Americans have already voted with absentee ballots, many more are set to head to the polls on Tuesday for the 2012 election. However, many of the 133 million registered voters may be still confused about hours or their polling locations and what they need to bring to be eligible to vote.
Voters must have pre-registered to vote based on their state's guidelines, which generally entails being a U.S. citizen, 18 years of age and a resident in that state.
On Election Day, voters in most states must present a valid photo ID that includes a photo and a signature. Some states require that voters verify their identity before the election if it's their first time. Other states require that voters simply state their name and residence address before hitting the polls.
Polling locations are located across the country, as dictated by the state or county. Visit your county or state website, which you can find at Usa.gov, to find your location and to determine its hours. Other websites also have voter information including the hours and location as well as other pertinent information regarding the election. President Barack Obama's website has a polling place finder included with a map, email notifications and social media tools. Vote411.org lists polling places along with a list of candidates, voting rules and deadlines. The website also gives the following hotline numbers for problems on election day: 1-866-MYVOTE1 (866-698-6831), 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) and 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español). The Google Politics & Elections page can be accessed by googling "where to vote." A simple search by address yields personalized polling and ballot summary with a list of candidates for the general election as well as your state's elections. CanIVote.org can help verify voter registration status and lists polling places, what to bring in order to vote and information about the candidates.
However, if you live in an area affected by Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall last Monday and caused mass damages along the East Coast, check with your local elections official to confirm your polling place or learn of any changes. In New York City, voters can text "NYCVOTES" or "DONDE" (Español) to 877-877 to verify a polling location change. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an order to allow many voters who were displaced by the storm to vote outside their districts.
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Register to vote. Most States require citizens to be registered in order to vote. Make sure you understand the voter registration requirements of your State of residence. If you are not registered to vote, you must apply for voter registration no later than the deadline to register in your State. Contact your local or State elections office or check their Web site for information on how to obtain a voter registration application and the deadline to register. The National Voter Registration Application form is also available.
If you are already registered to vote. Confirm your voter registration status with your State or local elections office before the last day to register to vote. This will allow you to make any changes to your registration (for example: name, address, or other corrections) in sufficient time to vote.
Polling place location & hours. If you vote at a polling place on Election Day, confirm your polling place location and make sure you know what time your polling place opens and closes on Election Day.
Voter identification (ID) requirements. Some States may require you to show ID in order to vote. You can find out what your State ID requirements are by contacting your State or local elections office or checking their Web site.
Provisional voting. Federal law allows you to cast a provisional ballot if your name does not appear on the voter registration record, if you do not have ID, or if there are questions about your eligibility to vote. Your State may provide other reasons for voting by a provisional ballot. Whether a provisional ballot is counted depends on verification of your eligibility. Make sure you are familiar with the pro- visional voting process in your State.
Polling place accessibility. If you are a voter with special needs or specific concerns due to a disability, contact your local elections office for information, advice, and educational materials about voting equipment and details on access to the polling place, including designated parking.
Early voting. Some States allow voters to vote in person before Election Day. Find out if your State has early voting or in-person absentee voting and, if so, when and where you can vote before Election Day.
Absentee voting requirements. Most States allow voters to vote using an absentee ballot under certain circumstances. Check on the dates and requirements for requesting and returning an absentee ballot before Election Day. Absentee ballots are available many weeks before the election but often must be returned before Election Day.
Military voting. Special voting procedures may apply if you are in the U.S. military or an American citizen residing overseas. You may qualify for an absentee ballot by submitting a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program or check its Web site at www.fvap.gov for information relating to military and overseas voters.