Election Day Is Here—Protect Your Vote!
With less than a week left until Election Day, efforts to confuse and intimidate voters have intensified. Take these steps to protect your vote!
Voter misinformation is so widespread, election-day confusion is inevitable, warns the League of Women Voters, with minority communities and seniors disproportionately targeted by blatant voter confusion and intimidation tactics.
In one Arizona county, the Spanish translation on voting registration card documents listed the wrong election date. Black, Hispanic, and elderly voters in Florida and Virginia received official-sounding phone calls informing them they can vote by phone. Ominous billboards warning that voter fraud is a felony with a prison sentence and heavy fines mysteriously appeared in minority neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin. And these are just a sample of the scams voters have had to circumnavigate.
Whether or not you're a vulnerable voter, you can help spread the word to relatives and friends who live in battleground states and communities targeted by voter disinformation campaigns. While NEA works with nonpartisan civil and voting rights groups to stop the billboard ads, here's what you can do to clear the hurdles and cross the finish line in the last leg of the 2012 race.
- Vote Early to minimize possible chaos and confusion on election day, urges Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization at the forefront of the voting rights battle. It's the best way for voters, especially those in vulnerable neighborhoods, to combat long lines and malfunctioning equipment at the polls. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia offer "no excuses" early voting, while a handful of states offer early voting only to voters who have a valid excuse for being unable to vote in person on Election Day.
- Prepare for the Polls. By now, all states should carry up-to-date voting information on their election Web sites. For absolute clarity, first check advancementproject.org/map for your state's early voting dates, ID requirements, polling hours, and other details. You can also go to 866ourvote.org to download an Election Protection smartphone app that allows you to verify your registration status, locate your polling place, see what type of machine you'll vote on, and contact Election Protection to report a problem and get answers to your questions.
- Know Your Rights. Contrary to rumors that typically circulate during election season, unpaid rent or taxes, outstanding parking tickets, past due child support, and homes in foreclosure don't prohibit your right to vote. Foreclosure victims uncertain about where to cast their ballots should check out the "Lose Your Home, Keep Your Vote" report at fairelectionsnetwork.com/resources/foreclosure.
- Take These Steps if You’re Challenged at the Polls. No one knows yet how widespread challenges may be on Election Day, but history shows minority voters are the most likely to be targeted. One Tea Party group, True the Vote, has pledged to train and deploy a million private citizens as election-day poll watchers. If you have a problem at the polls, call Election Protection hotline 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Attorneys who know election law will be at the other end of the line to give you immediate real-time help. Challengers must provide election officials with a reason for the challenge and poll workers must follow up. As a last resort, don't leave your polling place without filling out a provisional ballot.
Brave men and women fought for our right to vote in a voting rights movement spearheaded by educators. Their courageous battle is a reminder we can't relax when it comes to our voting rights, whoever is elected on November 6. "We have to be ready to stop an onslaught of new voter laws in their tracks," warns the Advancement Project's Judith Browne Dianis. "At the end of the day, we need a voting rights movement revival, because this is not over in November."