Local and statewide elections are being held around the country on Tuesday. Here are some of the Election Day basics.
Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times.
It may not be a presidential or congressional election year, but there are still plenty of races on the ballot on Tuesday.
These elections will determine the governors of Virginia and New Jersey; the mayors and other leaders of New York City, Atlanta, Minneapolis and more; and countless members of school boards and municipal councils. They will also decide the fate of ballot measures on election rules, local taxes and other issues.
Here’s a guide to where and how you can vote.
Is there an election where I live?
If you live in Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia or Washington State, you have statewide elections on Tuesday. Depending on your location, there may also be local races or referendums on your ballot. You can find more information by clicking on your state above, or by using Vote411.
How can I find out what I’m voting on?
You can find a sample ballot online showing all the candidates and questions that will be on your actual ballot, so you can do your research ahead of time and make your choices. Depending on where you live, your state’s election website may offer sample ballots, or you may need to go to your county’s website instead. You can also enter your address on Vote411 to find a full list of races.
Where do I vote?
If you want to vote in person, each state has an online portal where you can look up your polling location and hours (and see if you have early-voting options). You should be able to find a link to the portal on your state’s election website.
That’s also where you can confirm that you’re registered to vote — and if not, find out whether you still have time to register, and how. If you have trouble or need more information, you can contact your local election office.
Some states require voters to show identification. You can find out here whether your state has an ID requirement, and if so, what forms of ID qualify.
What if I’m turned away?
If poll workers can’t find your registration, or if your state requires identification and you don’t have it, poll workers in most states are required to offer you a provisional ballot. (The exceptions are Idaho, Minnesota and New Hampshire.) If they don’t offer one, ask for it.
After the election, officials will confirm your identity and eligibility before counting your provisional ballot. In many cases, the problem is a simple clerical error that they can identify and correct on their own. But in other cases, you may need to take further action to ensure your vote is counted, such as going to an election office and showing your ID within a certain number of days. Before you leave your polling place, be sure to ask what you need to do.
Can I vote by mail?
In many states, yes — but with the election just days away, it may not be possible to request a mail ballot, receive it and return it in time to be counted. So you should check your state’s deadlines (available on its election website or Vote411) and confirm that the timeline is realistic, keeping in mind the possibility of U.S. Postal Service delays.
Depending on your state, you may also be able to vote in person before Election Day, or pick up and return a mail ballot at an election office. You can use the same websites as above to find out whether those are options for you.
How do I report voter suppression?
There are official channels to report voter suppression. You can contact the election office for your state or territory, or you can file a report with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
The Justice Department also runs a voting rights hotline at 1-800-253-3931. The American Civil Liberties Union runs a nonpartisan hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
Voter intimidation is a federal crime. Examples include aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record or other qualifications to vote; spreading false information about voter requirements; physical intimidation; and harassment of any kind.
When will we know results?
Votes cast in person on Election Day should be counted that night, but the timeline for counting mail-in ballots will vary by state. Some states allow officials to begin processing mail-in ballots before Election Day, and they may be able to report nearly complete totals on election night. But states that require officials to wait until Nov. 2 will need more time.
How long it will take to declare a winner depends on the tightness of the race. If it’s a blowout, we’ll probably be able to tell on election night. If the race is close, be ready to wait.
And remember, just like last year, because Democrats are disproportionately likely to vote by mail and Republicans are disproportionately likely to vote in person, early results could be misleading.
Maggie Astor is a political reporter based in New York. Previously, she was a general assignment reporter and a copy editor for The Times and a reporter for The Record in New Jersey. @MaggieAstor