Monday, November 03, 2008

Tips for Voting Tomorrow

Assuming you haven't done so already, voting tomorrow will present challenges. Here are a few tips for making it a little easier on yourself and making sure your vote gets counted. I offer this as a service and, yes, it's based on my voter protection work. But in case there are any questions, this officially comes from me, not the voter protection effort.

1. Bring Your ID

Yes, you know that already, but really. Bring your ID. No ID and you have to cast a provisional ballot.

Also remember, if you use a driver's license, state ID or military ID, the address on the ID need not match the address under which you are registered. If a poll worker tries to tell you otherwise, firmly but correctly point out that that isn't the rule.

If for some reason you don't have one of the above, remember that you can bring a utility bill, paycheck or government document of any kind, provided it shows your name and (different this time) the address under which you are registered.

2. Go to Your Proper Polling Place

The one sure way to cast a vote that won't be counted is to cast it at the wrong polling place. Questions about your polling place? Check out and plug in your address. But remember, that only gives you a polling location. Many locations house multiple precincts. You have to find the table where your precinct picks up ballots. Polling locations have greeters this year to help you find your way.

If you try to vote and aren't on the list, it may be because you aren't at the right polling place or precinct table. So first off, check that. Polling staff are supposed to look your address up in the book if there are questions, but if the crowd swells, you might have trouble getting this done.

Whatever you do, if you aren't on the list do not cast a provisional ballot at that precinct unless you are sure it is the right one. Some poll workers were letting/encouraging this in '04. Remember, if you cast at the wrong precinct your ballot does not count.

3. If You Have Problems, Look Out for Voter Protection Observers.

While we don't have observers at every location, where we do they are there to help. We should have outside observers at lots of locations, and inside plus outside observers at a good many. They can help you resolve problems with voting if they arise.

4. Leave Your Campaign Gear Behind

The rule about campaign shirts/hats/buttons etc. isn't clear, which means poll workers will be enforcing it as they see fit. The base rule is no campaigning within 100 feet of the door to the polling location. Under some interpretations, wearing a candidate's paraphernalia is campaigning.

If you want to test the rule and have a well-connected team of lawyers ready to file a declaratory judgment action and get a judge on the phone for on on-the-spot ruling, by all means, be a test case. If not, understand that the presiding judge at the polling location has the last word unless you go to court. So the smart move is to go into the polling place sans Obama (or McCain) gear.

Yes, "Your Professor" at 216 said the opposite. One difference between Your Professor and the present instructor -- he says you can look it up; I actually do.

5. Vote.

Seriously. No matter what happens tomorrow, people will be talking about this election for decades. You want to be part of this.

6. Tell Your Story.

Wiki the Vote is compiling voting info with an eye toward improving the process. SoS Jennifer Brunner's website also encourages voters to log their experiences. Whatever doesn't go right will be a lot harder to solve if people don't know about it.