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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

 
CYA

by digby

I mentioned the other day that I had to cast a provisional ballot in 2006 and I got a number of emails from readers telling me about their problems with voter registration and voting. It pays to check it out ahead of time and make sure you haven't been caged or purged.

Here's an excerpt from a helpful post from Steve Rosenfeld at Firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette:

What Should Voters Do?
Voters need to be sure they are properly registered. They can do this by calling their county election office and verifying their voter registration information is in their county database and is current.

Anyone who registered with the help of a voter drive this year should check to see that their form has been processed, as those applications have to be entered by local officials. If there are data-entry errors, many states still allow voters to fix those, so their right to vote is not jeopardized. In some locales, officials are still processing voter registration applications turned in weeks ago.

While on the phone, voters should ask where their polling place is located and what form of ID is required. First-time voters must show more specific forms ID when checking in to vote.

Voters can also ask about early voting options. There generally are two choices, although every state has its own laws. The first is called in-person early voting, where a voter will go to a county office or designated site and fill out a ballot. If there are any questions or mistakes made when voting, election officials can correct those. The second option is to get an absentee ballot, which is taken home and mailed. The downside of voting absentee is any mistakes in filling it out the ballot cannot always be corrected. In every election, a number of absentee ballots are disqualified for errors that could otherwise be fixed.

Here are charts that describe each state's early voting options and absentee ballot options. (This is voting by mail with an absentee ballot, which is not the same as in-person absentee voting, where voters fill-out and submit an absentee ballot at a county office before Election Day.

Voter Challenges
One of the big unanswered questions about the 2008 election is will the GOP try to contest the credentials of new voters as they show up at polling places.

Voter challenges are a deliberate tactic to discourage voting. In most cases, these involve a party representative challenging an individual's registration as that voter checks in at their polling place. A typical partisan challenger would claim that voter lives at a different address than what is in their voter registration record. The challenged voter then must produce an ID or a utility bill proving otherwise to vote. This tactic could not only delay that person from voting, but would also slow down others in line. The goal of voter challenges is both to victimize new voters and to prompt others to leave without voting.

The solution to voter challenges is to call your local election office now to ensure that your registration is current. If your information is correct, you cannot be successfully challenged and you will vote. If a problem arises while voting, the challenged voter should call the nation's largest election protection hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE, where they will reach an election lawyer or law specialist to help them solve the problem. That hotline is now being staffed during East Coast business hours.

The prospect of partisan challenges in 2008 has been enhanced by a bureaucratic snafu that is not the fault of most voters. Government databases that are now being used for the first time in some states to verify voter registrations have had numerous "no matches" due to data-entry problems. The GOP is using this problem to suggest that Democrats are illegally padding voter rolls with fabricated voter registrations.

Republicans have said, in lawsuits and public statements, that the only response to these mismatches is to recertify all new voters -- which they know is not going to happen before Election Day. Secondarily, the GOP has argued that these voters should get a provisional ballot, which must be verified after Election Day before it is counted.

Virtually all of the Republican-filed litigation -- notably in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania -- has sought to invalidate voter registrations where a 'no match' has occurred. So far, the GOP has lost every case in court on this issue, including one at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Ohio Supreme Court dismissed a similar suit late on Tuesday.

The Democratic National Committee, which is coordinating election protection efforts for the Obama campaign, also said that voters should not be intimidated by GOP voter suppression efforts.


I would imagine that most people who read blogs think they are up on all of this. But yours truly had to vote provisionally last time out --- and I have voted in every election at the same precinct for over a decade. If you haven't voted recently or have moved or have changed your name or just aren't sure, check anyway. It can't hurt.

And if you have relatives who might find this information helpful, send it to them too. It's quite a shock to discover that you aren't registered. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be challenged. (They wouldn't dare here in the People's Republic of Santa Monica.) It's best to make sure everything's in order ahead of time.


H/T to SB
.