Are you worried that we will wake up November 5th to find that, once again, election results in key races are in question? Here's what you can do.
These recommendations compiled by my colleages at YES! Magazine are simple ways you can protect your own vote and the fairness of the system, based on the recommendations of leading voting integrity advocates.
Please forward this checklist to others to help make our election system work.
1. Check your registration. Even if you think you're registered, you may not be. Check online at www.CanIVote.org.
2. Vote now. Check if early voting is possible in your state. If you’re voting by mail, check carefully where you need to sign, how to seal the envelope, and how to mark the ballot. And note: Some ballots require extra postage.
3. Practice your vote. Electronic voting machines can be difficult to use. Verifiedvoting.org is preparing links to video demos of how to vote on the machine you will find at your polling station. If you'll be using a paper ballot, check out the sample included in your voter pamphlet.
4. Find out who’s in charge. Make a phone list of your county and state election officials—it may save valuable time on Election Day if you need to get registration verification or other information.
5. Vote early. Avoid the frustration of long lines. Also, if you encounter problems, you'll have time to sort them out and may be able to help others.
6. Take your government-issued ID and your cell phone, if you have one. If you have problems, or see problems, call a hotline immediately (see point #9). You may not need ID to vote, but it's best to have it. If you have trouble with your registration, ask for a provisional ballot.
7. Avoid Straight Party Voting, if it's an option in your state. Vote for each race individually, even if it takes a little longer.
8. Verify your vote. If you’re voting on an electronic voting machine, check the review screen to make sure it reflects your vote. If the machine produces a paper record, check as you go along that everything is working correctly. If not, speak to a polling attendant—don’t leave until you’re sure your vote has been properly recorded.
9. Document and report. If you encounter difficulties, or see others experiencing difficulties (excessive lines, voter harassment, malfunctioning machines, etc.), make a detailed record. Get all the facts you can—location, names, specific problem.
The best way to report problems is to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683), which has volunteer lawyers in 15 locations standing by to provide rapid-response assistance. You can also contact your party of choice. We have more suggestions here.
AFTER ELECTION DAY
10. Call your candidate. If there are questions about an election result, urge your candidate to ask for an audit. Ask how you can help.
11. Call your election officials. If you have concerns, let your county and state election officials know, and monitor their response. Ask them not to certify the election before all challenges and recounts are finished. And send a copy of your message to your local newspaper editor. If you're confident about the election result, thank the officials for a difficult job well done.
12. Work for fair, transparent elections. 66% of Americans don't trust the electronic voting machines many of us will be voting on this November. Join the movement for election reform in between elections. Use our YES! Tools to find out how.
Read more about the key issues we'll be voting on in the Purple America issue of YES! Magazine.
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