Be Prepared at the Polls

Your guide to what you should pack and what you should expect at the polls.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020; however, Election Season is here and voters across the country are already casting ballots through early and absentee voting. Look up your polling place and hours to find out where you can vote (and know many polling locations and hours have changed in 2020 due to COVID-19).

Be Prepared to Wait in Line 

Early voters are already experiencing long waits at polling locations, and we expect long lines on Election Day as well. In some areas the lines will be several hours long, so go early and prepare accordingly.

IMPORTANT: Stay in line, even if it’s past closing hours.

If the polls close while you’re still in line, stay in line—you have the right to vote. If someone tries to tell you to get out of line, don’t get out of line. Instead call 866-OUR-VOTE to report.

What Must I Bring With Me?

Many states have ID requirements, especially for individuals who are voting in that state for the first time.

Find out what forms of identification you should take with you to vote.

Check out Rock the Vote’s Know Your Rights resources and get familiar with your state’s voting policies and your voting rights. Bookmark and/or screenshot the information so it’s handy for you or others in case you believe you are misinformed at the polls.

Save the Election Protection Hotline in Your Phone: 1-866-OUR-VOTE

Save the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE in your phone’s contacts under a name you’ll remember. Call the Hotline with any voting-related question or if you run into any problems at the polls. The team of volunteer lawyers will answer your questions and record any issues so voting rights organizations can track and address trouble areas.

What Should I Wear to Vote? 

Most states ban electioneering/campaigning within a certain radius of the polling location. In many cases, that means you can’t wear anything that is explicitly for/against a candidate, campaign, or political party. That includes shirts, bags, pins, and hats. General pro-voting messaging is totally acceptable so feel free to sport your Rock the Vote swag!

Because there is a good chance you’ll be in line for an extended period of time, wear comfortable shoes and comfortable, layered clothing.

After you vote, put on your “I Voted” Sticker and wear it proudly!

What Should I Bring With Me to the Polls?

Start making a list of things you may want to pack. Note, anything you may need to pick up ahead of time. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Things for voting:

☐  Black pen (in case you can use your own when voting)

☐  Sample Ballot (with preselected choices)

☐  An acceptable form of identification

COVID-19 protective equipment:

☐  Mask(s)

☐  Hand Sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)

Weather-related items:

☐  Layered clothing

☐  Blanket (to sit or wrap up in)

☐  Umbrella (in case it rains or snows)

☐  Sunglasses

In case you have a long wait:

☐  Friends – Reach out to friends and family to see if you are voting at the same location and consider going together to keep one another company as you pass the time.

☐  Comfortable shoes

☐  Folding/camping chair

☐  Phone (fully charged)

☐  Phone charger (in case there’s a place to charge)

☐  Headphones (non-battery)

☐  Book, magazines, holiday or thank you cards, deck of cards, homework, work, journal, latest knitting project – things to keep you busy

☐  Liquids (water and/or drinks)

☐  Snacks

☐  Chapstick and lotion

☐  Batteries (for anything you are taking with you)

☐  Flashlight

Address Any Scheduling Conflicts

Lines are expected to be long on Election Day—in some areas the lines will be several hours long, so proactively address any potential scheduling conflicts.

Some examples:

  • Arrange your work schedule so you can take off as long as you need whether that means notifying your boss, taking the day off, making a shift change, not scheduling meetings.
  • Talk with your teachers and professors about your intention to vote and unknowns with regard to how long it will take. See if there’s any homework you should do while you are in line so you don’t fall behind.
  • Don’t make any hard to reschedule plans that will force you to decide between canceling plans or voting.
  • Arrange flexible childcare so if you need to extend childcare hours because you are still in line, it’s ok.

Know Your Rights

Get information about your rights at the polls, what to do if you run into issues, and more.