Fellow citizens of the United States: No matter who you are or where you are, no matter your party or lack thereof, you can do more than vote tomorrow.
Vote – yes, of course, if you haven’t already. You can make sure you are ready to vote on ALL the positions and issues on your ballot by looking up a sample ballot for your address at Ballotpedia.
But here’s something else you can do to ensure that we have a safe, clean election: Watch what is happening at and around the polling stations.
If you see anything that doesn’t look right – report it to local and state officials.
Here’s how. Links to state resources are at the bottom.
- Polling stations have a boundary around them defining a neutral zone in which no one can campaign or interfere with voters. If anyone is campaigning or you see any campaign literature within that boundary, tell the polling station manager. If the boundary isn’t clear, ask a poll worker where it is.
- Near or just outside of this boundary, there might be actions to intimidate voters. This could be as major as roadblocks or gun brandishing, or simply verbal threats and harassment. If you see this, report it to local police, the polling station security, and your county or state elections office.
- Every voting space in the polling station should be private – no one but the voter should be able to see their vote. This includes a voting booth that is accessible to people who are disabled or in wheelchairs.
- Voters should not be rushed, no matter how long the line is. Help preserve the sanctity of voting by showing patience with all voters. Many of them might be voting for the first time, or might find the voting mechanism confusing.
- Voters using electronic machines should be very careful and double-check that their ballot is showing their choices correctly before they press the button to “Cast Ballot.”
- In some states, including Georgia and many others, voters may NOT be challenged on their eligibility at the poll on Election Day. The challenge must take place in advance, in writing, to the Board of Elections. Check your state’s law on voter challenge here, and if you see this process being used illegally, inform elections officials.
- Every state has its own guidelines about the form of identification required to vote. These guidelines may have changed in recent years. Some voters might be mistakenly turned away from the polling station, or might be unsure what form of ID they need. Check your state’s rules (at the state elections office, see below) so that you can help other voters.
In Georgia, for example, an EXPIRED driver’s license is acceptable identification if it’s from Georgia (not other states). A student ID from a state university (not private) is also acceptable. It’s also OK if the address on the ID doesn’t match the address on the voter list – the ID is only needed to match the photo with the person and his/her name.
You can learn about your state’s election rules and regulations from the state elections office. A list for each state’s website is here at the Federal Elections Commission.
You should also look up the elections office for your county [e.g., search “Pickens County GA elections office” – be sure to choose the site that has “.gov” in the address] and keep that local number with you. Both state and county websites should have a “Contact” page and you can call them to report election problems.
If you want to be doubly certain that problems are addressed, contact your party’s state office. Just Google “[party name] [state] headquarters”.
Do your part. Don’t just vote – help everyone vote.
Today’s penny is a 2012, the previous year that we had a presidential election.