SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Voting is a constitutional right, but the rules and designated rights around voting may not be widely known. Check out these tips and reminders from the California Secretary of State (SOS) for a smooth voting experience at the polls.

What is electioneering?

The first big no-no when it comes to voting is electioneering, and it is an easy mistake to make. Electioneering is defined as any visible display or audible dissemination of information that advocates for or against any candidate or measure on the ballot within 100 feet of the entrance to a building that contains a polling place, or an outdoor area at which a voter may cast or drop off a ballot.

This means that wearing your favorite candidate’s logo on a t-shirt or a hat and heading straight to the polling place is a no-go. Also plan to leave those buttons or stickers with information about candidates or ballot measures in the car when you head in. Another prohibited electioneering activity is any audible broadcasting of information about ballot measures or candidates within 100 feet of the building entrance.

The same protections also apply to vote-by-mail ballot boxes so voters can submit their ballots without interference. Obstructing another voter’s access to a ballot box is also prohibited.

Is exit polling legal?

Exit polling is the practice of surveying voters after they leave a voting site. The California Secretary of State has determined that people who wish to conduct exit polls may do so 25 feet or more away from a voting area. The polling must also be conducted in a quiet manner that is not disruptive.

Are people allowed to observe voting sites?

In short, yes. In the state of California, all election processes are open to public observation. All members of the media, campaigns and any other interested parties are not only allowed but encouraged to observe these processes. However, observers are expected to behave in a manner that is safe and respectful to voters and poll workers.

California Voter’s Bill of Rights

The Secretary of State for California has established a Bill of Rights for all voters across the Golden State. Check out the rights below.

  • The right to vote if you are a registered voter.
  • The right to vote if you are a registered voter even if your name is not on the list.
  • You will vote using a provisional ballot. Your vote will be counted if elections officials determine that you are eligible to vote.
  • The right to vote if you are still in line when the polls close.
  • The right to cast a secret ballot without anyone bothering you or telling you how to vote.
  • The right to get a new ballot if you have made a mistake, if you have not already cast your ballot. You can:
    • Ask an elections official at a polling place for a new ballot,
    • Exchange your vote-by-mail ballot for a new one at an elections office, or at your polling place, or
    • Vote using a provisional ballot.
  • The right to get help casting your ballot from anyone you choose, except from your employer or union representative.
  • The right to drop off your completed vote-by-mail ballot at any polling place in California.
  • The right to get election materials in a language other than English if enough people in your voting precinct speak that language.
  • The right to ask questions to elections officials about election procedures and watch the election process. If the person you ask cannot answer your questions, they must send you to the right person for an answer. If you are disruptive, they can stop answering you.
  • The right to report any illegal or fraudulent election activity to an elections official or the Secretary of State’s office.

Because of the large populations we see in many California cities, voting centers may see long lines on election day. However, don’t let a long line deter you from voting. As long as you are in line by the time the polls close at 8 p.m., you can still vote–even if the line is around the block.

If you feel you have been denied your rights or if you experience or witness election interference, voter intimidation or fraud, you are asked to contact the Secretary of State’s confidential Voter Hotline at 800-345-VOTE.