Election watch: Protect your vote

This is a followup to my post “Following the elections online” from back in September.


This video is from from Color of Change, an inspiring grassroots group based in New Orleans that grew out of the horrific injustices during and after Hurricane Katrina. They have come up with some great tips for making sure your vote gets counted, and counted they way you intended. It’s a sad fact that there are forces in this country who still seek to disenfranchise groups of people. So it’s important to know how to protect your rights, especially the right to vote as you see fit without hassle, intimidation or unnecessary delay.

5 Ways to Protect Your Vote

If there’s one thing we see every election, it’s that Republicans will try to manipulate the rules any way they can to prevent some people from voting. Don’t be discouraged–be prepared. If we’re armed with the right information, we can beat most of these dirty tricks.

  1. Be Prepared, and Conquer the Lines. We can’t let long lines stop anyone from voting. There are several ways you can reduce lines and make sure they don’t prevent you or anyone else from voting:
    • Vote early if you can. You can find early voting times and locations at govote.org.
    • Double-check your polling location before you go to vote. You can look it up at govote.org.
    • Have a Plan & Have Fun. Have a plan in case there are lines. Bring some food, drinks, friends, books, games, a chair — anything that will prevent you and other voters from walking away. Have fun while you wait and encourage your friends and neighbors to stay in line so their vote is counted.
    • Don’t give up–don’t walk away without voting.
  2. Two numbers you should have in your phone. Put these numbers in your phone so you’re prepared to report problems and help other voters find their polling place:
    • 866-OUR-VOTE is a hotline that’s been set up to collect information about problems on election day–lawyers and election protection advocates are ready to respond. It’s the best way to make sure someone addresses any problems you see.
    • The number for your local election board–in case you need to tell someone where they can vote. Enter you zip code at govote.org, then look for “Contact [your county] election officials” on the right.
  3. Beware of lies, misinformation and dirty tricks; spread the truth.
    Republican operatives are spreading plain lies to frighten new voters. In Philadelphia, anonymous flyers in Black neighborhoods have falsely claimed that voters with unpaid traffic tickets or outstanding warrants will be arrested at the polls. If you hear a scary rumor, it’s probably a lie. Call your local election officials to check it out–and make sure your friends and neighbors know the truth.
  4. Leave the Obama gear at home.
    In some places, you won’t be allowed into the polling place if you’re wearing clothes and pins that support a given candidate. This isn’t true everywhere, but it’s best to play it safe. You can contact your local board of elections to find out if it’s a problem in your area. If it is, bring some extra plain T-shirts or sweaters to loan neighbors who show up unaware of the rule.
  5. Read the ballot carefully, and ask questions!
    Some ballots can be confusing even for smart and informed voters. Read instructions on the ballot carefully, and if you’re not sure you understand something, ask a poll worker to explain. Remember what happened in 2000 in Florida–a confusing ballot caused thousands of people to mistakenly vote for the wrong Presidential candidate. Don’t let that happen to you!

I don’t know that many of these issues exist in Oklahoma — I haven’t heard of any in my time living here — but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Swing states are where the real problems are found, for obvious reasons. But, still, we should be vigilant. If irregularities happened here, what watchdog media would report it? … Yeah, insert crickets here.