Thursday, October 30, 2008

Voting Tips

photo Frank Siteman/Allposters

How To Have YOUR Vote COUNT

Vote early: Group News Blog STRONGLY recommends you vote EARLY.

Voting by mail: If you have already received a vote-by-mail ballot, make SURE to vote right away. (Don't forget postage and to sign the security envelope. It is your signature under penalty of perjury on the security envelope, matched against your signature on file with the elections office which validates your ballot. Without your signature your ballot will not be counted.)

Personally, I think if you have an opportunity to drop your ballot off at a polling site in person, you should do so. That way you KNOW your ballot got there; otherwise you are relying on the Post Office... which is reliable. However this election, personally, I want to be CERTAIN. It's a little thing, but in Washington State in 2004, the Statehouse was decided by 133 votes.

Provisional ballots: If you know you are a registered voter and someone tries to challenge your vote or tries to make you vote on a "provisional" ballot, insist they contact their supervisor or the county elections commissioner. In the 2004 election depending on the state, between 30-38% of the more than 1.6 million provisional ballots cast were not counted.


If you have trouble, call the national voter protection hotline at 1-877-US-4-OBAMA (1-877-874-6226).

Straight-party voting: Don't do it. If your ballot lets you check one box and vote for all Democrats, don't. Seems like a great idea. Problem is, the programing is easy to screw up and in some states, voting the straight-party ticket means you've NOT voted for president.

Instead, vote for each candidate individually. Just look for the "D" for Democratic Party after their name. Then make certain the election software doesn't flip the vote on the screen in front of your eyes. Of course, if you have a paper ballot that won't be possible.

Paper ballot: Ask for a paper ballot. Even if they have touch-screen or other electronic machines, ask for a paper ballot. If they have one, ask them to give it to you. You don't need to explain -- although "it's easier for my disability to work with paper" is simple to say. When they ask you what your disability is, say "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but it's really none of your business. May I have a paper ballot now please?" Then keep your mouth shut as you stare them down till they give you what you asked for. *smiles sweetly*

If you are voting in person, make CERTAIN to LEAVE ENOUGH TIME. More people will vote Tuesday, November 4 than in any election in U.S. history. This is why we want you to vote early if at all possible.

Find Your Polling Place NOW. If you can vote early, vote early.

Problems: Take a CAMERA or VIDEO CAMERA with you. Record your votes, especially if you have electronic touch-screen voting systems, the kind which have been "flipping votes." The only way to prove the systems are flipping votes is with VIDEO. Video the screen as you vote. Watch carefully to make certain your vote does not get flipped for a candidate or initiative you are against. If that happens, STOP.

Velvet Revolution

What To Do If You See Voting Machines Flipping Votes

Early voting has begun. We strongly recommend using paper ballots whenever possible. Many states allow the use of paper ballots, but you have to ask for one. Ask.

But in some states and counties, voters are required to use the electronic voting machines. And there are a growing number of reports about electronic voting machines flipping some votes from one candidate to another.

So if you're voting on an electronic voting machine and you see your votes being flipped (or if the machine malfunctions in any other way), what should you do?

Here are some suggestions from election integrity experts at, and from Emily Levy of Velvet Revolution's and Ellen Theisen of

  • Get the machine's serial number, if possible
  • Call over a poll supervisor to observe the problem
  • Insist on filling out a problem report
  • Refuse to vote on that machine
  • Request that the machine be taken out of service and impounded for later forensic examination
  • Tell all the voters waiting in line exactly which machine flipped your vote (third machine from the left, or whatever)
  • Report the problem via election integrity hotlines, twitter, and the voter suppression wiki. Information on how to do that is here. [Jesse: Also call the national voter protection hotline at 1-877-US-4-OBAMA (1-877-874-6226)]
  • Call the county, city, and state election offices and report the problem.
  • Find those phone numbers here.
  • Call reporters and tell them about the problem

And also, please keep in mind that not seeing flipped votes does not indicate that votes are recorded correctly, as they can be flipped invisibly. That's just one reason why we strongly recommend using paper ballots whenever possible.

Got all that?

Simple Tips...
  • Vote early. Make SURE your friends and family vote also.
  • If voting by mail, use postage and sign the security envelope.
  • Don't vote "the straight party" line. Vote for each individual candidate.
  • If voting in person, go early and be prepared to wait.
  • Don't let people make you vote "provisionally." Insist on a regular ballot.
  • Photograph/video your voting process.
  • If there is trouble with your machine, demand a different machine.
  • Then contact everyone with your photos/videos (including GNB.)
The key information is below.


Please let us know of your voting adventures.
We'll keep opening voting threads between now through Election Day.

[ Find Your Polling Place | Voting Info For Your State | Know Your Voting Rights | Report Voting Problems ]