Voting is a Right, Not a Crime
The most important right of our Democracy is the right to vote for all citizens, regardless of ethnic background or economic class. This right is being suppressed by those determined to keep power regardless of popular opinion. Voter suppression laws have already been passed in several states and this election season promises to bring its own instances and challenges of election day suppression.
Here’s a guide on how to recognize voter suppression, how to respond to it, and how to hold accountable those who break the law.
First, remember that if you’re in line by the time the polls close, you have the right to vote. To find out whether or not your state requires you to bring a photo ID with you to the polls, click this link to see a map- http://www.ncsl.org/
KNOW YOUR VOTER RIGHTS
- Equal treatment and opportunity to register and vote, regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex or disability.
- Privacy - only you should know how you voted.
- Having your vote accurately counted and recorded.
- If you have a disability, access to a voting device you can use, along with appropriate assistance.
- Help in voting from poll workers IF you ask for it.
- Courtesy and respect from poll workers, election officials and all others at the polling place.
VERIFY YOUR VOTE: 38 states have reported inaccurate counts from electronic voting machines, due to bugs, scams or otherwise. But only 13 states require a paper record of ballots cast. For paper audits of votes tallied electronically. While they aren’t required in this election, New York and Florida will also require paper records in the future.
1. Fight for your state to have a paper trail of votes cast in every election by petitioning your Secretary of State and local election officials. To see a map of states that already do so, click this link- http://brennan.3cdn.net/
2. Demand hand-counted paper ballots in your state for every election. Demand future Secretary of State candidates include hand-counted paper balloting in their campaign platforms to win your support.
3. Make sure ballot boxes at voting precincts are sealed before being transported to counting facilities, and that no ballots are left behind or destroyed.
4. Assign volunteers to different counting facilities for as many voting precincts as possible on election night and livestream the counting of the votes to ensure the legitimacy of the counting.
5. If a vote recount is allowed under your state’s election laws, contact the ACLU and enlist their help in demanding a vote recount, done in public under citizen supervision.
FIND AND REPORT DECEPTIVE PRACTICES:
EXAMPLE 1: Election officials in Maricopa County, AZ were recently found giving intentionally misleading information on when to vote to Latino voters. (source:http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/18/
EXAMPLE 2: Leading up to the WI recall election, Wisconsin voters reported receiving robocalls wrongly stating they had already voted and that there was no need to go to the polls on election day. (source: http://articles.latimes.com/
To report deceptive practices, contact your Secretary of State and local elections officials by phone, email and website contact forms, give them the details of the deceptive practices, inform the media and warn fellow citizens.
FIND AND REPORT VOTER INTIMIDATION:
EXAMPLE 1: The Houston-based, hyper-partisan group True The Vote has trained thousands of volunteers and armed them with voter rolls to go to polling locations in contentious states to issue voter challenges, or question election officials on the eligibility of a voter who came to cast a ballot. (source: http://tpmmuckraker.
EXAMPLE 2: Billboards were placed by anonymous donors in minority and lower-income neighborhoods proclaiming “voter fraud is a felony” with a jail sentence and fine included. The billboards have since been removed. (source: http://www.clevelandleader.
To report voter intimidation, find and record all evidence of wrongdoing and inform your Secretary of State and local election officials. You should also contact the ACLU, inform the media and warn fellow citizens.
Voting can often take hours of waiting in lines, time missed from work or class, and gas used to drive to your voting precinct. Make sure to find out from your local election officials whether or not you’re registered, and the exact location of your voting precinct. Make sure to bring any necessary materials to the polling place so you aren’t driven away upon arrival. For state-by-state voter checklists, click this link- http://www.866ourvote.org/
Carl Gibson is the co-founder of US Uncut- a nonviolent, creative direct action movement to stop budget cuts by getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. You can listen to his online radio talk show, Swag The Dog, at blogtalkradio.com/swag-the-dog.
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