October 15, 2008

Voter Supression Fun Facts!

There are many ways in which votes are suppressed, both intentionally and unintentionally.

1. Bogus information is distributed. Example: An anonymous flier warned that people with outstanding arrest warrants or even unpaid traffic tickets might be arrested at the polls. 2nd Example: Voters that filled out a voter registration according to the instructions apparently filled out the registration incorrectly.

2. Voter residencies are challenged. Example: A GOP plan to use foreclosure lists to limit voting despite the fact that a foreclosure notice doesn't mean the resident has moved out.

3. Machines don't record votes accurately. Example: Polls in Ohio in 2004 recorded far fewer totals than were realistically expected. I won't even bother telling you what was happening frequently in Florida that year.

4. Voter registrations are removed from the list. If this is done in the last 90 days before an election, it is illegal. Example: Nine states (many of them swing states) are potentially illegally removing voters from their registration lists.

5. Polling places don't schedule enough hours or get enough machines for everyone to vote. Example: Ohio in 2004 documented many polling places with too few resources to get the job done.

How to Fight Back

If you are wrongfully denied your right to vote, they will not figure it out later. If you are not able to resolve the problem by the time your poll closes, your vote will not be counted. Here's how to fight back.

1. For electronic ballot voters, make sure the summary of your vote at the end records your actual votes. Sometimes, for unexplained reasons, some machines switch your votes to other candidates, or simply drop them altogether.

2. If you are challenged, don't give up. At the very least: as long as you're arguing with the challengers, they won't have time to challenge anyone else.

3. Assume the challenger is a stupid jerk. They don't know shit. Get their name and what reason they have for denying your vote. Then proceed to step 4.

4. Use technology. Find someone with an iPhone nearby and ask them to look up the phone numbers of your county's election office. If that doesn't work, find the names of election officials and get their phone numbers. Keep calling people until someone acquiesces.

5. Use witnesses. Go to the polls with friends. After your friends have voted, ask them to speak in your defense. One supposed foreclosure on a list doesn't mean jack, legally. Four witnesses who say you live in a house is significant. At the very least, a lot more people will notice five people arguing than one person arguing. This might make people upset enough to join you. A whole district against one polling official? It could work.

6. Threaten to call the press. If all else fails, emphatically state that you have the right to vote, and since the polling place is denying your right, you will report this to the press.

7. Call the press. When you call them, be sure to share the facts: particularly that you are being wrongfully denied your right to vote. You must be calm and collected, or they'll drop you. If you seem reasonably intelligent and appear to have facts that support your case, you might have a shot.

8. Support others' right to vote! Defend them after your vote has been cast, but don't obstruct the voting of others while you do this. If you are working at a polling place, you do not have to close the
polling place when you are supposedly supposed to close - the people that show up to the polls before closing time have the right to vote, so extend your hours at least long enough to let those that made it in time cast their ballot.

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