Thanks to Republican legislatures, voting is more challenging this year. The GOP worked for a very long time to silence votes from people they don’t think should have a say in our individual and collective futures. They probably don’t think it’s personal. It is personal when someone tries to take away your constitutional and civil rights – including your right to vote.
This is your Election Day check list, providing you with information on everything from what to do before you leave for the polls, to what to do if you are harassed or denied your vote or if you see any of these things happening to someone else. Please bookmark this post on your cell phone and take your cell phone with you to the polls.
While some Republicans are trying to vote twice, Republicans have made the vote as hard as they can for everyone else. Aside from passing unconstitutional laws, Republicans tried to manipulate the voter registration process. They also have “poll watchers” disguised as “concerned citizens” ready to make your voting experience as challenging as possible.
Before Election Day.
If you live in a state that has voter ID laws, make sure you have the ID required by your state with you. If you are unsure of whether you need ID or which ID is required, please check. Some states, like Iowa and Pennsylvania, there are efforts to make you believe you need ID to vote with the hope that will deter people from voting. At the same time, several states do have new voter ID laws. Your vote is too valuable to lose. Check the rules for your state, and make sure you have the ID you need before heading out the door to vote.
The requirements for ID varies from state to state, so you do need to know what is required in your state. For example, while an expired Driver’s License is recognized as a valid ID in Georgia. In Ohio’s early voting, you only need the last four digits of your social security number.
The rules about what will happen if you don’t have the required ID also very from state to state. In some cases, you will be denied your vote, in others you will have to fill out a provisional ballot. Don’t take a chance. Take a few minutes to see what if any ID you need and make sure you have it with you when you go to the polls. When in doubt, check. Even if you checked, confirm once more before you head for the polls.
The League of Woman Voters has an excellent website, which provides information on everything from the ID you need in any state, to provisional ballots and absentee ballots in your state.
Before going to the polls, make sure that you are going to the right poll station. Depending on your state, you could lose your vote if you go to the wrong poll state, or you may have to vote by provisional ballot.The easiest way to find out where your voting is here. Canivote will direct you to the applicable website for your state to find out where your poll station is. You can also check at 866ourvote.
If you can, go to the polls with a group of people. Aside from being able to watch out for each other, if some of those “concerned citizens” try to intimidate you, you can also keep each other company while waiting to vote.
Make sure you have your ID with you before you go to the polls. Make sure you have your phone with you. Keep this post bookmarked, as well as direct links to the FBI, the Department of Justice and 866 our vote.
Now it’s time to vote. Once you have your ballot, just take a moment to enjoy the fact that you are exercising your constitutional right, and despite all the efforts to take your rights away from you, you got through it. If you have an option between voting with a paper ballot or using a touch screen, always choose the paper ballot. It’s physical proof of your vote. If you are voting at a touchscreen, take a photo of your ballot.
Make sure you follow the instructions be it for a paper ballot or for a touchscreen, so that your ballot isn’t spoiled. Take the time to read the instructions thoroughly before voting and follow them. You’ve come this far, a few more moments reading directions will secure that your vote will count. Your vote is your voice. Just use it.
Please mark your ballot for all elections and all ballot questions. If you leave any portion of your ballot blank, someone else will complete your ballot with choices you definitely don’t want.
Now that you have voted, and hopefully without incident, congratulations! Despite the GOP’s lowest efforts you made you voice heard!
Problems you could face on Election Day
Some “concerned citizens” aka working for the Romney Campaign be it as a campaign poll watcher or through the Koch Brother financed True to Vote and other similar organizations, may try to challenge your vote, or someone else’s. They may try to intimidate you in some other way.
If you are harassed, don’t leave. Report the incident to an Election Official. If an FBI or DOJ observer is at your poll station, tell them what happened.
If someone who is not a recognized Election official asks you questions or asks for your ID, whatever you do, do not leave the poll station until you have voted. If you are threatened, someone tries to touch you or harass you call 911. If you’re phone has a speaker feature, turn it on. That way, the call can be heard (and recorded.) If you see this happening to someone else, do the same thing. Call 911 with your speaker on.
If you have a complaint about ballot access, election fraud or discrimination you can call the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, D.C. directly either at 1-800- 253-3931 or (202) 307-2767.
You should also report the incident to your local FBI field office. You can find the Field Office for your location here.
Report any incidents of abuse or intimidation you see happening to others.
Also, if you are denied your vote and there isn’t an FBI or DOJ official at your poll site, you should report the incident to the FBI, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division and 866ourvote, along with any media outlet you are comfortable with.
Your vote is your voice in this election. Yes, there are people who will try to trick and deceive you. They will try to intimidate you and others. Protect your vote and those of others by reporting any incident of harassment or intimidation.
A special note for voters in Ohio. First, you do not need photo ID to vote early. (That is despite what that nice “concerned citizen” working for the Romney campaign tries to tell you. ) You do need the last four digits of your Social Security Number. You can find a short summary of what ID you need to vote early, or on Election Day. Also, If you received an absentee ballot, at this point, it is much better to vote absentee than trying to vote at the polls. If you do try to vote at the polls, Jon Husted set up a double booby trap to steal you votes for President, but also for down ballot races, like the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as ballot questions.
A special note to voters in Pennsylvania. Despite the fact that Pennsylvania’s ID law is not applicable for Tuesday’s election; a judge ruled that it’s okay to publicize it. While they are allowed to publicize the new ID law, they are not allowed to enforce in during this Election.
Image from: Simple Living and Eating