Clearing Up Election Myths

Voting myths on election day
Voting myths on election day

Have you heard a rumor about the Election 2008 process?  Well if so, it could just be another myth.  There are many myths floating around out there.  Many people have heard different variations of different stories from email, social network sites, word-of-mouth, or other sources of things that may or may not impact their vote on November 4th.  Some of these stories can be quite intimidating so that it may impact someone voting in an election.  Voting is probably the easiest way a person can participate in our democracy.  It is the right and responsibility for a United States citizen to vote.  It is an essential part of the way our country operates, so the rules and regulations are something that should be noted by all.

One of the most prominent myths out there that has been circulating primarily through emails is in the form of a request. It is a request asking people not to wear any Barack Obama clothing or paraphernalia when you go vote on November 4the. The warning states that you risk being turned away by polling officials, citing it’s a form of campaigning and it’s illegal to do any campaigning in or near polling places on election day.  This is a touchy issue, depending on who you ask, what state, and what you wear.  Although there’s no federal law addressing a “dress code” for voting, there are rules in most states that are set up to prevent overt campaigning or electioneering in or around polling places.  Those states prohibit anyone from distributing, circulating, posting, or exhibiting campaign material anywhere from 10 to 200 feet of polling spots.  Sometimes that can include buttons, hats and even shirts, but it is usually intended for signs, posters, fliers, etc.  Ten states (Delaware, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersy, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont) explicitly prohibit wearing pins, buttons, stickers, labels, etc.  So in a few states, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to take it off, put a jacket on, or turn it inside out. 

Another thing that needs to be cleared up, is quite simple.  This is to those who say, “I don’t like either candidate,” or “it’s not going to matter who I want to be president, my single vote doesn’t matter!”  If you are using either of those two excuses as a reason not to vote, then you’re not well informed on the whole Election Process.  November 4th is called election day.  It isn’t called vote for Obama or McCain day.  Even if you don’t want to vote for either presidential candidate there are still plenty of other state and local races to vote on.  Many times it’s not only limited to people to vote for> Many places have issues, amendments, laws, statutes, etc that will be on the ballot, some of which could most likely directly affect you.

As far as showing your ID when you go to vote, there may be some question as to whether you’ll be allowed to vote if your address doesn’t match.  Most states don’t have a government-issued ID law, but some do.  You may be asked for ID or you may be asked for a signature, it depends on where you are.  Twenty-four states do require some type of identification, it could be from a photo ID to a utility bill.  Just remember that only United States citizens are allowed to vote in the United States.  Be prepared, especially if you’re a first time voter, to prove you’re a registered voter and United States citizen.

Not for nothin’, but you should check out any myth with local or state election offices.  You shouldn’t be afraid, bullied, or intimidated out of going to vote.  Don’t find an excuse not to vote.  You’d be surprised at how many businesses and places of employment have specific rules that allow employees to go vote on election day.  You should check with your employer.  Remember…if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.

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