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Yep, If You’re in Line, You Get to Vote

The proper and fair administration of elections has been a molten-hot issue in 2016, but there is one thing that Trump-ites, Clinton-ites and experts of every stripe agree on.

It's this: If you're on line at a polling place at the time it's supposed to close on Election Day, you get to vote. Doesn't matter how long it takes. Doesn't matter how long the line is. You. Get. To. Vote.

"I'm not aware of any place that doesn't do it that way on Election Day," said Tammy Patrick, a former federal compliance officer for the Maricopa County Elections Department in Arizona who advises Electionland.

This year, some state elections officials have been putting the word out on social media to reinforce this is what's what.

Despite the clarity of the laws and rules on this point, there nonetheless manages to be controversy about it each time another election rolls around. Case in point: Republican nominee Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit in Nevada contending that, in early voting on Friday, some people got on line after the polls were supposed to close. (An initial hearing went against Trump. The case is ongoing.)

Patrick said states sometimes may handle early voting differently on this point. But on Election Day, there's not much gray area on this one.

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Portrait of Robin Fields

Robin Fields

Robin Fields is ProPublica’s managing editor. She joined ProPublica as a reporter in 2008 and became a senior editor in 2010.

About Electionland

ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

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