KEY POINTS

  • A Tennessee poll worker ejected several early voters with Black Lives Matter shirts from the polling station, and has since been fired
  • The worker thought a law banning the names of political parties or candidates applied to the slogans
  • Voters are increasingly concerned about access to polls

A poll worker in Memphis, Tenn., ejected several voters for apparel with slogans from the Black Lives Matter movement.

The worker has since been fired because, while Tenessee law bans the names of political parties and candidates from polling places, Black Lives Matter is not a part of the Democratic party. 

Americans wait in line to cast their ballots in Miami Beach on Florida's first day of early voting, barely two weeks before the tense US presidential election on November 3, 2020 Americans wait in line to cast their ballots in Miami Beach on Florida's first day of early voting, barely two weeks before the tense US presidential election on November 3, 2020 Photo: AFP / Eva Marie UZCATEGUI

Suzanne Thompson, a spokesperson for the Election Commission in Shelby County, told the Associated Press that only a few early voters were turned away before a third party reported that activity.

“That was pretty bad,” she said. “They were not supposed to be turned away.”

Throughout much of the nation, there has been growing concern over the accessibility and accuracy of the vote, both in person and via mail. Tampering by the post office, fake ballot boxes, and the doubts sown by Donald Trump over the accuracy of the polls all contribute to heightened scrutiny. 

The Carter Center, an organization that monitors countries in which democracy is taking root or backsliding, has added the U.S. to the list of countries it monitors, USA Today reports.

Avery Davis-Roberts, associate director of the Carter Center’s Democracy Program, said recently: “U.S. elections have never been perfect, but generally Americans trusted in the process and believed in the results. But in the last five or 10 years, we’ve started to see many of the same discouraging trends we see in countries where we work.’’

There are many rights that voters should be aware of when they head to the polls, reports USA Today:

  • You have the right to vote after the polls officially close, as long as you were in line when they did so. Officials must finish counting those in line before they can shut down operations, no matter how long the line is.
  • You have the right to vote without being intimidated, a tactic once commonly employed by the Republican party. 
  • You have the right to change or amend your vote if you make a mistake. Ask a poll worker for assistance. 
  • You have the right to submit a provisional ballot if your name is not on their list of registered voters. Your provisional ballot will be counted once your identity is confirmed.
  • You have the right to vote with accommodations for any physical or intellectual disabilities. Voters who cannot reach the polling place can request a curbside ballot. Anyone denied access to a ballot should report the incident to the voting rights section of the civil rights division at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767.
  • You have the right to vote in a language you understand. Voters may bring a friend or family member (but not an employer) to help them fill out the ballot. Ballots are available in many languages.