Can you use a phone while voting?
November 7, 2006 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Can you use a phone (to get assistance from a friend, for example) while voting?

I have heard somewhere, I think, that you can talk on a phone while voting, because you are allowed to seek assistance from friends other than poll workers. Suppose for instance that you speak a language for which the poll workers don't have translated ballots, or an available translator. You might need to call a friend, right? Or maybe you just forgot the name of that lady running for school board that you want to vote for, and your friend knows who you're talking about. Anyway, my friend called me while he was voting, just to make sure I had voted. (He didn't actually need assistance). The poll workers told him he could not talk on the phone. Are they right? It's not like it's a test. Getting help from a friend is not cheating. Perhaps he just needed to notify them so he could use their phone or something? Also, if his rights were violated, what number do I call in the state of Minnesota to report it?
posted by gauchodaspampas to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Best answer: I posted the same number in an earlier thread, but the National Campaign for Fair Elections at 866-OUR-VOTE is a great resource for getting information on specific election laws in various areas of the country, and also as a way to find out how to report election fraud/rights abuses.

It's a free, non-partisan service run by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the National Bar Association.

(Full disclosure: my [philanthropic, non-profit coordinating] employer is hosting one of their call centers today. It's a great cause.)
posted by eschatfische at 10:56 AM on November 7, 2006

In MN, the Voter Bill of Rights, as seen in this bundle of polling place posters (PDF), only provides that you can bring someone with you to the polling place if you need assistance voting. The person can't be an employer, union representative, or candidate, so you could argue that if your friend was using a cell phone, the poll workers wouldn't be able to identify the person on the other end.

If you need to make a complaint, this page at the MN state web site explains how to do so.
posted by cabingirl at 11:16 AM on November 7, 2006

When I voted in VA this AM they told people cell phone use in the polling place was illegal.
posted by COD at 12:43 PM on November 7, 2006

Not exactly sure if we're in the same ward, but at the VFW on Lyndale this morning they had a sign explicitly banning cell phones in the voting room.
posted by look busy at 2:21 PM on November 7, 2006

There was a sign at my polling place today (University City, Missouri) banning cell phone use on the premises. You're definitely not allowed to have it in the voting booth—that's my understanding.

That said, a large number of people were on their cell phones while in line at the polls today anyway, calling TV news stations and attempting to contact the St. Louis County Board of Election commissioners, because some asshole decided that it would be a great idea to jam the residents of four different wards into one small apartment building lobby to vote. The lines were an hour and a half long, and there were an average of 120 people in line at any given time during the hour and a half I was there...

Can we say "voting irregularities"?
posted by limeonaire at 4:38 PM on November 7, 2006

Here in NC no cell phones are allowed to be on(except for the one the poll judges have to call the headquarters.)

I think family members are allowed to help one another but that's it. A poll worker, if ASKED is allowed to assist someone with the physical act of voting but NOT to influence the vote. (I'm a former poll judge myself.)

It is best to carry in a small card with the relevant info for your election. Waiting till the last minute to be informed doesn't make a lot of sense.
posted by konolia at 5:06 PM on November 7, 2006

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