Voting Guide – A Reference Document to make sure your Vote Counts!

Early voting has opened in many states. Check out Rock the Vote’s website to find out if you can vote early in your state.  Otherwise, you will either need an absentee ballot or wait until November 4th.   Since voting is underway, some tips are provided below to ensure that YOUR VOTE COUNTS.

1) If you can vote early – do it.  The biggest reason is it will probably save you time from standing in line on Election Day.

2) Know the names of who you are voting for BEFORE you enter the booth.  Some states, like Virginia, do not include party ID on the ballots. So if you want to vote the straight party line, you need to go in with an understanding of who you are voting for.  You can bring a newspaper with you, if that helps.

3) DO NOT LEAVE THE VOTING BOOTH UNTIL YOU VALIDATE YOUR SELECTION.  Regardless of the method, all voting booths will allow you to confirm your selections.  Do not assume that your selections were made correctly.  West Virgina is having a problem with their voting booths where the touch screens were not calibrated properly and when you pushed one candidate, the other candidate got the vote.  Again, every machine gives you an opportunity to review your vote – DO IT!

4) Do not wear political paraphernalia to the voting booth – you might be turned away.  In some states, it’s illegal to where any political items.  Yes, we all want to support our candidate.  But, do yourself a favor and leave the items in the car.

5) Make sure you are registered to vote.  Additionally, make sure you know where your polling location is located.  The last thing you want to happen is to get in line an hour before the polls close, wait, and then find out you needed to go up the street.  POLLING LOCATIONS CAN CHANGE FROM YEAR TO YEAR.  Please make sure you find out where you are to vote this year.

6) Bring your photo ID.  While you may not be required to show it, if there is a problem with your registration, having an ID will help clear up confusion.  Also, if you can, bring the latest utility bill that has your name on it.  This is to protect you from voter suppression (see more under item 8).

7) Do not hesitate to ask for help.  The machines can have quirks and can be difficult to understand.  You are allowed to ask for help, even after entering the voting booth.  Make sure you do – your vote needs to count.  You don’t want to have your vote not count because of not fully punching a ballot – right?

8 ) If you feel something is going on that is not proper at your polling place, let a poll watcher know or let the local party know – ASAP.  It’s a fact that some partisans engage in voter suppression.  The best way for those tactics to be exposed is to report them.  Particularly if you see a form of ‘voter caging’ – you must report immediately.  That is, if there is a person at the election center that is challenging your right to vote based on the fact you may no longer live at your address.  The GOP used this technique in 2004 and consists of sending mail to all registered voters.  If the letter gets returned for non-delivery, that person makes the caging list and his registration is challenged.  The GOP is moving on to try and use foreclosure lists this year.  While it is not illegal to challenge a ballot, it is illegal to cage.  Letting an opposing party’s election official know this immediately may prevent a lot more voters from being disenfranchised.   This is why a utility bill helps. 

9) If you are a registered voter, in your state, and you are at your correct polling place – you have a right to vote.  Absolutely challenge anyone who tells you otherwise.  Do not get discourage and go away – that’s what they want you to do.  Don’t listen to anyone who tells you can’t vote because of a parking ticket or other crime.

10) You have the right to complete a provisional ballot.  If there is a question about your vote being legitimate, you are allowed to fill out a ballot that will be adjudicated later.

11) Know your particular state laws.  Check out your state’s election site for more rules, including polling hours.

12) VOTE EARLY.  Lines get longer throughout the day.

13) As a voter, you have the duty to make an informed Election Day decision.  There will be candidates for offices you may not be familiar.  There might be potential laws or constitutional changes to your State on the ballot.  Reading them in the voting booth for the first time will not allow you to make an appropriate decision.  The wording can be very confusing, as well as whether a for or against vote is actually for or against the measure. Take your right to vote seriously – do your homework before entering the booth.  If you don’t know about an issue, don’t vote it.

14) CHECK AND MAKE SURE YOU VOTE FOR WHO YOU EXPECTED TO PRIOR TO LEAVING THE VOTING BOOTH. I am going to repeat this one again.  There are a lot of things that can go wrong.  If you have a chance to vote a straight party ticket – that might not include the President.  The machine’s could mis-read your vote.  Some very partisan states will setup the ballot to give a particular candidate an advantage. **I had a woman in Pennsylvania tell me she voted the straight party ticket and didn’t choosed Obama.  That’s normal.  Make sure you vote for the Presidential candidate*

15) BE PATIENT!!! Linrs may be long and you may want to go home.  Particularly if you live in the Battleground States – DON’T.  Gore lost Florida by 537 votes – and as a result, lost the election.  Imagine how different the last eight years would have been.  537 people – trust me.  There will be that many people waiting in line wondering if there vote is worth their time.  It is!  The GOP also knows this.  There has been claims of them packing the lines to slow down the voting process.  Be prepared, you might have to wait in line for 4 hours or more.  Bring a book, radio, IPOD – whatever. But DON’T go home without voting!  Most states will allow the polls to stay open if lines are long – don’t believe anyone who tells you that you won’t get to vote because the polling locations are closing.  Four hours might seem like a long time – but can we take four more years of a president you don’t want? YOU HAVE A LEGAL RIGHT TO VOTE IF YOU ARE IN LINE WHEN THE POLLS CLOSE.

Please pass this list along and review again prior to voting.  Many of the election irregularities could be minimized by following these basic rules.  If you have anything to add – please let me know.  I will definitely add to the list.


One Response

  1. […] Voting Guide – A Reference Document to make sure your Vote Counts! […]

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