Friday, October 22, 2004

Voting Due Dilligence

Via Laurel at My Chiron, Kos reports in The Guardian on vote suppression by robocall:
...voters in heavily Democratic Cleveland have been receiving mysterious pre-recorded calls telling them their voting location has been changed. Local election officials are investigating the malicious calls. The so-called "robocall", in fact, is now a staple of dirty campaigning.
Two words: due dilligence.

The ultimate responsibility to preserve and protect the vote falls on individual voters. Thats not right and it's not fair, but that's the reality of voting this year.

Here are things you can do RIGHT NOW to ensure your vote counts.
1. Contact your county election office to verify that you are registered to vote, that your voting registration address has not been changed, and that your name has not been stricken from the voter list. Michael Moore offers a state-by-state list of voter hotline numbers and Secretary of State/State Board of Election Offices if you need contact information.

2. There is a high likelihood that in some areas (i.e., Republican-controlled swing states) polling places will be changed at the last minute. In many states, if you vote by provisional ballot at the wrong polling place your vote will NOT be counted. Using the above list, please plan ahead to verify your polling place today, AND on November 1, AND on November 2 before you go to vote.

3. Get your information from non-partisan, primary sources.
  • Expect websites to be hacked or hit with Denial of Service attacks around the election. Do not bank on being able to find telephone numbers or addresses you need on the Internet; write them down now. Do not bank on Internet information being accurate. (Hey, take me at my word and PLEASE re-verify anything I write in this article.)
  • If you receive printed information, email, or telephone call from an "authority" about election day logistics or your eligibility to vote (or your neighborhood is beset with sound trucks or posters or flyers), verify the information with a non-partisan source. Look up the contact information yourself and don't trust the one given in the phone call, flyer, etc.
  • Multi-source. Double check and triple check.

  • 4. Know your rights and obligations, aka read the fine print (read the big print, too). Information about your right to vote in your state and your eligibility to vote is available from your Secretary of State or State Board of Elections. (See the list in #1 above.) Or, visit's partial but growing list of state-by-state voters' bills of rights. Make sure you take multiple copies of identification to the polls so no one has a pretext to challenge your right to vote.

    5. If anything is fishy...RAISE HELL.
    ...if you get funny information, if you are harassed, if someone tries to stop you from voting, please contact your state Democratic party office, and they can put you in touch with your state legal team--so you can protect not just your vote but also the votes of people in your community. (I haven't had any luck finding a comprehensive list of state party offices--I wish the DNC had a list on their site--but a Google search should do the trick. Make sure you have the number handy *before* election day.) I know a number of organizations are working on programs to protect the vote *on* Election Day; if any BOP readers can share resources on whom to contact in the days leading up to the election, please pass it on and I will update the information here.

    6. If you are eligible in your state, vote by absentee ballot. We know with certainty that there will be problems with voting machines. They leave no paper trail and they can not be audited. Voting by absentee ballot not only leaves an auditable paper trail, but also frees you up to volunteer on election day, and ensures your vote counts in the case of unforeseen circumstances that keep your from the polls.
    Does this seem like a big hassle? Well, it is. It's called vote suppression and disenfranchisement and it is how Republicans are counting on stealing the election: by subverting the system to steal your right to vote.

    Don't get mad, get even. Go to the polls, drag your friends to the polls, take up the responsibility to make sure your vote counts, and vote the Republicans out of office.

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