Legends Times

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Stop, Drop, and Poll – What to Do if You Have Problems Voting

BY MARY MANCINI

Anecdotal evidence is coming in fast and furious of early-voting incidences including voting machine malfunctions in Ohio,Putnam, and Jackson Counties in West Virginia andDavidson and Decatur Counties in Tennessee, as well as hidden problems with “straight ticket” voting (confirmed bySnopes) in Texas and West Virginia. A more complete list of the problems so far can be found at VotersUnite.org.

It CAN happen to you. If it does, here are a few suggestions on what to do:

1) Video Your Vote
If possible, plan ahead for any problems by bringing a video camera with you to Video the Vote. Then, spread it around (send it to us and we’ll help). Remember, the focus should be on gathering evidence and not telling stories. So, use video, audio, photographs to document what happened. Also, get names and phone numbers of witnesses, voting machine serial numbers, names of poll workers, and document the time of day.

2) At the First Sign of a Problem, Stop*
At the first sign of a problem with your machine (or if you experience any of the other problems listed below), stop what you are doing and ask to speak to thesupervisor/officer of elections (skip the poll worker) at your polling location. Explain your problem. If they try and waive you off, call your main election commission number and ask to speak to the election commissioner who will satisfactorily address your problem. Keep in mind that many poll workers/supervisors will try and blame the voter aka “operator error.” Do not leave your polling place until your problem is well-documented and addressed to your complete satisfaction and, if the problem is with a machine, that machine is quarantined. Oh, and you get to vote. Never leave the polling place without voting.

3) File a Report. File Several Reports.
Your local polling place will have incident reports available to you. If they do not, call the main election commission for your county and ask for someone to bring one to you. Make sure that both you and the supervisor sign it. An example of a report is here (Hat tip:Wake Up and Save Your Country Voters Guide). The U.S. Election Assistance Commission also lists on their website where you can find out how to file a report in your state. Again, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote can also help with any questions in this area.

4) Call the Election Protection Hotline
Report you incident to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote, especially if you feel you are being bullied or your incident is not being taken seriously. The ACLU has a hotline as well at 1-877-523-2792. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Greg Palast offer suggestions as well in their comicStealYourVoteBack.org.

5) Pledge to Stand Up to Stolen Elections
Go to NoMoreStolenElections.org and pledge to not concede until every vote is counted – and counted as cast.

*Problems can include: machine problems, polling place problems (machines not set up on time), switching or closing of polling place, voters forced to vote on a provisional ballot, long lines/waits, intimidation, unusual ID demands, poll workers asking inappropriate questions, etc.

UPDATE: One of TrueVote.Us’s members has a great suggestion to add to this list: “Voters who see their vote being flipped by the machines on election day, if they can’t get the machine taken out of service, they should immediately begin telling all the voters still waiting in line exactly which machine flipped their votes. (Third machine from the left, or whatever.) Try to get people…to refuse that machine. This could cause trouble, backups, and increase the pressure on the local officials to mothball that machine. No doubt people are already complaining both to the officials and to election activists and lawyers waiting outside – but the other voters waiting in line also need to know. [I took out a bit of this that was very partisan because we believe that fair and honest elections are no-partisan and non-ideological. – Ed.]

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November 3, 2008 - Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , ,

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