Yes, You Can Bring Notes Into a Voting Booth and 7 Other Election Day Myths

With Election Day around the corner, we’re seeing a lot of familiar myths back in circulation — from “you can’t bring notes into the voting booth” to “you can’t wear campaign t-shirts to the polls.” We’ve rounded up a selection of some of the most frequent offenders to provide the real story.

Be aware that laws and regulations surrounding voting are set by the state and sometimes local government. Your state or municipality may have specific regulations that aren’t found elsewhere — and if you’re not sure about what’s allowed, contact your clerk or registrar of voters in advance for information.

You should also be advised that some states have faced legal challenges over laws that advocates say interfere with civil rights, such as bans on taking voting booth selfies.

1. You Can’t Take Notes Into a Polling Booth

False. You can absolutely bring notes and other materials into the polling booth and take your time with voting. Long ballots can be complicated, and it can get hard to keep candidates and ballot measures straight.

It’s totally okay to bring in an annotated example ballot, notebook or other voting aide — like a guide printed by an advocacy group.

2. You Can’t Wear Campaign Gear to the Polls

False. As long as you aren’t electioneering within 1,000 feet of a polling place, it’s usually fine to wear campaign gear. In other words, it’s fine to sport your “Yes on 10″ pin or your “Vote for Harris” shirt, as long as you don’t actively campaign on a cause.

What you can’t do is turn to another voter and tell them how to vote.

3. You Must Vote Before Polls Close

False. As long as you are in line at the polling place before the polls close, you must be allowed to vote.

4. You Can Return Your Absentee Ballot Anywhere

Mixed. Depending on where you live, if you can’t mail an absentee ballot on time, you may be required to return it directly to the registrar of voters, or to a specific voting precinct. There may also be a deadline before Election Day to return absentee ballots.

Contact your clerk or registrar of voters, or check the documentation that came with your ballot, to learn more about your return options and deadline.

5. If You Cast A Provisional Ballot, They Don’t Count It Unless the Election is Close

False. After officials have reviewed a provisional ballot and determined that it is valid, it will be counted. That said, inappropriately excluding absentee ballots is a voter suppression tactic.

When at all possible, insist on getting a regular ballot — and call 866.OUR.VOTE to talk to Election Protection if officials try to deny you a ballot.

6. Candidate Order on Ballots is Biased

False. There are a number of approaches used for listing candidates — including randomly and by party — but officials work to reduce bias, recognizing that the order in which candidates appear can have a subtle effect on voter choices. To learn more about how your ballot is laid out, contact local election officials.

7. College Students/Homeless People/Temporary Workers Can’t Vote

False. Anyone who lives in a precinct and receives mail there may register to vote. College students can use their local address, while members of the homeless community may use the address of a local services organization.

Of note: If the address on your identification doesn’t match your current address and you are in a voter ID state, that’s usually okay.

8. Voting is a “Use it or Lose It” Right

False. Voting is a right, not a privilege. The only people who aren’t allowed to vote are non-citizens (except in some special circumstances), people below voting age and people convicted of certain crimes — although this, too, is changing.

Some states periodically purge their rolls to remove voters believed to be dead, moved or inactive, in which case they are supposed to send a notification to give voters a chance to respond — although as seen in Georgia, this requirement is not always followed.

You can inquire with your local officials to determine if your registration is current and confirm that your address is correct. also provides an online tool for doing so.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Chad Anderson
Chad A4 months ago

Thank you.

Jan K
Jan S4 months ago

thank you

Peggy B
Peggy B4 months ago


Jetana A
Jetana A4 months ago

I like the accompanying petition, to make election day a holiday. I'd say only for those who have proof they voted!

Martin H
Martin H4 months ago

“you can’t bring notes into the voting booth”... so I can actually bring love notes in there with me. useful knowledge if I ever get one!

Henry M
Henry M4 months ago


Clare O
Clare O'Beara4 months ago

go and vote

Clare O
Clare O'Beara4 months ago


Dot A
Dot A4 months ago

"Future Shock" - a book written in "Future Shock" book by Alvin Toffler in 1970,... warned of technologies impact on our realty. I'd say that the Internet has certainly impacted much of our current thoughts. Those who use this tool for evil find it most convenient. Those who use it for good, are finding the challenges daunting. Yet, this is our new reality, unfolding daily. Use everything we have to improve the lives of our world. Nothing else is worthy!

Louise R
Past Member 4 months ago

Thank you