Who can bring a friend or relative into the voting booth?
Ahead of Election Day, the State Board of Elections is clearing up questions about who can receive assistance from a relative or friend while voting.Posted — Updated
According to officials, the law states that all physically or mentally disabled and illiterate voters can request any person of their choice to accompany them to the polls, especially if the voter isn't able to mark his or her own ballot. Only the voter's employer or agent of that employer would not be allowed to accompany the voter.
All voters, regardless of whether they have a disability, can receive help from a near relative in the voting booth. There are no legal restrictions on the number of times a person can assist different voters.
How to request assistance
People who want to bring someone into the voting booth with them must request to do so when they arrive at their polling place. The voter is asked to state they have a disability and identify their assistant to a poll worker or, in cases where the voter can't communicate, the assistant can help.
According to the State Board of Elections, "elections officials will exercise their best efforts to understand and respond to individual requests for assistance, however communicated." Furthermore, "elections officials should avoid prying questions about the voter’s preference for assistance."
If someone needs help and does not bring assistance, election officials can fill in. Anyone who completes a ballot for a voter is required to do so according to the voter's instructions. They are prohibited from persuading or inducing any voter to cast a vote in any particular way or to vote for any particular candidate and cannot tell others about how the voter voted.
The State Board of Elections asserts, "it is a federal crime to intimidate, threaten, or coerce a voter with the purpose of interfering with the right of the voter to vote. Photographing or videotaping voters for the purpose of intimidation is prohibited. Observers will be ejected from the polling place if they interfere with or communicate with voters."
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