Early voting began this week in many states, and November 2nd only 10 days away. But with the TGOP coordinating their usual voter suppression campaigns, how do we ensure every registered voter can vote?
First, practice and teach Safe Voting. Next, support or join a local voter protection group. It’s game time. (More)
Fraudian Slip, Part III – Safe Voting! (Non-Cynical Saturday)
This week Morning Feature considers “voter fraud” or, more correctly, the Republican Tea Party’s perennial voter suppression campaign. Thursday we looked at myths and facts about “voter fraud.” Yesterday we considered real cases of voter suppression. Today we talk about Democrats’ efforts to enable voters, and how you can help.
The first and most important thing we grassroots Democratic activists can do to help other voters is to vote early ourselves. If you haven’t yet voted, please do. If you vote by mail, you should already have your ballot; complete it and mail it in. If you live in one of the 32 states plus the District of Columbia that allow early voting, find out where your early voting place is – it may not be your election day polling place – and vote. Voting early allows you to help with election day GOTV efforts, and we’ll need your help. So vote early, and when you do….
Practice and teach Safe Voting!
The ACLU made this wonderful video about Safe Voting practices:
So you don’t have to scribble furiously, here are their ten tips:
- Check your voter registration status – This is especially important for first-time voters, or those who haven’t voted in awhile. While it’s too late to register in many states, you still have time to discover any problems and learn what documents you’ll need to correct them.
- Vote before election day – If your state allows early voting, vote early. It helps you avoid long lines on election day, and gives you time to sort out any problems you might encounter.
- Locate your polling place – As I wrote yesterday, polling places often change. Your county or state elections office website should have the address of your precinct’s polling place. If you plan to vote early, check that address also; it may be different. If you don’t recognize the address, drive there to make sure you know where it is.
- Plan ahead for special assistance – If you have physical challenges, need help with English, or have other difficulty with voting, the law allows you to have assistance. Call a friend or your local Democratic Party office for help.
- Don’t wear political attire – While some states allow you to wear a campaign t-shirt or button, others don’t. Even if your state allows such attire, it may make you a target for TGOP voter suppression activists.
- Bring your ID – Some states require a photo ID to vote. Others don’t. To be safe, bring a photo ID with you. If you don’t have a photo ID, most states issue them at the DMV. Find out what documents you need and get one.
- Vote early in the day – The polls are usually less crowded, and you’re less likely to encounter problems like your polling place running out of ballots.
- Follow all instructions – Please don’t argue with poll workers. Most are volunteers or are paid only a nominal fee, and most try to be nice. Read all of the instructions on your ballot, and follow them.
- Ask for help if you need it – That’s why poll workers are there. If you don’t understand a ballot instruction, or make a mistake and need a fresh ballot, ask for help. Don’t let pride cost your vote!
- Take your time – Your ballot may have many races and questions. You should be able to find a sample ballot online at your county elections office website, and you can bring notes to the polling place. Once you have your ballot, there is no hurry. Take as much time as you need to read each question and mark your vote.
After you practice Safe Voting, teach it. Have this list with you while phone-banking and canvassing. If a contact says he/she will vote, take a moment to go over the Safe Voting list and ask if he/she will need transportation or other help on election day. If you’re canvassing, know that precinct’s early and election day polling places and be ready to give directions or have copies of a map.
Support or join a local voter protection group.
The ACLU, the League of Women Voters, and many state Democratic Party groups are training voter protection groups across the country. Call your local Democratic Party, ask what groups will be in polling places in your area, and ask how you can help. Some groups rely on lawyers and/or require special training to help voters at the polls. Others may not.
Even if you can’t or don’t want to be a poll watcher, there are other ways to help make voting easier and safer. You can provide rides or other help for voters who need it. You can bring water, or umbrellas, for voters and poll watchers. Call ahead to volunteer, so your local group can brief you on local laws, e.g.: whether you can wear campaign t-shirts or buttons for the job you’ll be doing. Confident voters are more likely to do what they must to overcome challenges, and every helpful contact – however trivial it may seem to you – makes uneasy voters more confident.
Vote early if you can, and practice Safe Voting. Phone-bank and canvass, and teach Safe Voting. Offer to help on election day, and protect Safe Voting.
The pundits and the polls say the odds are against us. The other side have more money, and the media echo their talking points. It’s a steep hill. Fine. But here’s the thing that makes life so interesting….
We have 9 days left to flip the script, and I’ll take a pass on yelling “Uncle.” So we got ourselves a game.
Get In The Game! Get Out The Vote!