Voting Myths Uncovered

November 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Democracy works best when "We the People" are well informed. There's a lot of information for a voter to process this election cycle which means your head shouldn't be clouded with misconceptions.The stakes could not be higher come November 4th. But some of the reasons that often stop people from voting could not be more absurd.

With that in mind, here's a look at some of the top urban legends about voting, as the nation engages in this historic election.

First you must have a driver's license to vote: mostly false. Only three states, Indiana, Georgia, and Florida, require photo identification at polling sites. Everywhere else, other forms of ID including recent utility bills or pay stubs can be used to prove your identity.

Another popular myth: absentee ballots are only counted if they might determine the outcome. That's completely false. Every valid vote is counted, regardless of what it means for the outcome. The only absentee ballots that don't count are ones that are cast incorrectly.

Next up, convicted felons can't vote. Well, that depends on the state. Felons can actually vote from behind bars in Vermont and Maine. Other states allow ex-cons to re-register to vote. Still other states define specific types of offenses that strip convicted criminals of the right to vote.

You can't get arrested for outstanding parking tickets if you show up at the polls, that's another myth.

When you move, your registration follows you, False. Though moving your registration has become easier with motor-voter laws, you still need to register at your new address.

Yes, you can vote even if your home is in foreclosure, as long as you're registered at your current address.

As for wearing political garb, the rules vary state by state, and even precinct by precinct. Some voting-rights groups recommend playing it safe by leaving the t-shirts and pins at home or at least bringing a jacket or a sweatshirt to cover them up.

If you run into problems at your polling site, you have a right to cast a provisional ballot. Local election officials then determine eligibility and will count the votes that are legitimate.

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