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A Voting Rights Disaster on Tuesday?

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 10:05 PM
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A Voting Rights Disaster on Tuesday?
WP: A Voting Rights Disaster?
By Christopher Edley Jr.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008; Page A17

Suppose in your neighborhood there are 600 registered voters per machine, while across town there are only 120 per machine. (That's a 5 to 1 disparity, which is what exists in some places in Virginia today.) On Election Day, your line wraps around the block and looks to be a four-hour wait, while in other areas lines are nonexistent.

This ought to be a crime. It amounts to a "time-tax" on your right to vote, and some of your neighbors will undoubtedly give up and go home. This scenario raises three questions: Nationwide, will it discourage tens of thousands, or untold millions? Which presidential candidate and down-ballot candidates might benefit from this "tax"? And what can be done in the next few days?

Voting rights advocates, watching this slow-motion train wreck that could disenfranchise so many minority voters, have filed emergency litigation in Virginia and Pennsylvania demanding that, at the very least, officials be prepared with plenty of paper ballots and reserves of competent poll workers. More litigation may follow elsewhere.

Judges can hold official feet to the fire, but they shouldn't have to. Assigning blame -- whether the fingers are being pointed at Congress or the Justice Department, county registrars or state legislators -- isn't crucial this week. Neither is this the time to focus on the reasons for failure -- whether indifference, incompetence, indolence or animus. What's crucial is that state and local officials nationwide salvage the situation by implementing second-best strategies: For starters, redistribute machines on the basis of voter registration, instead of assuming that minorities won't show up. Stockpile paper ballots, under lock and key, and offer a paper ballot voting option if wait times reach 45 minutes. Train platoons of reserve poll workers and stand by to shuttle them where they are needed. Commit right now to holding the polls open late if necessary. Advertise what you're prepared to do. For heaven's sake, a lot of people bled for this opportunity....


Laws aside, if all else fails, there's common sense. Next Tuesday is certain to be the mother of all turnout stories. The signs pointing to this include registration data, turnout in the primaries, polling data on public enthusiasm, early-voting volume, and Barack Obama's ground game. Polling sites should prepare to be overwhelmed, not underused....

(Christopher Edley Jr. is dean of the Berkeley Law School and co-founder of Berkeley's Chief Justice Warren Institute for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity. He was a member of the National Commission on Federal Election Reform and is an unpaid adviser to the Obama campaign.)
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Porschenut1066 Donating Member (348 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 10:41 PM
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1. To Do List on Voting Day Nov 4th
1. Get yourself and if possible a couple of friends ready to go to the polls early. Remind everyone you know that it is election day and that we need them to vote, even if that means taking time off work.
2. Have your proposition decisions written down so you can remember yes or no on Prop 100,102, 105 200, 201 Etc.
3. Take some food (like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) that lasts a long time.
4. Take some water and a cup or two so you will be able to drink water and share if someone else needs some.
5. Take a light portable chair or seat of some sort. If the wait is a long one you may need to sit down or there may be an elderly person you could help if needed.
6. Make sure you have your ID. Or whatever your local election officials say you must have to vote. Here in AZ it can be a Drivers license ID, or State ID (looks like a drivers license but is only ID) with picture and current address on it, or voters registration card and a couple of utility bills no older than 90 days old that show your current address. Note well: A passport, military ID, birth certificate, or any other document that does not have your current address on it will not count as official ID. (A Military ID card might help establish who you are but you will need more than a military ID and a big local military base to prove it. So make sure you have some state issued ID or the utility bills with you.)
7. Don't give up stay until you vote. Ask others to hold your place if you need a restroom, or something important. Most people are reasonable if you ask nicely.
8. Report any problems with the voting machines immediately to the election officials. Ask for a paper ballot if that is a choice.
9. Ask elderly people in line if they might like to have some help with using the voting machines.
10. Vote carefully, make sure that whoever you vote for is recorded and not changed by the machine. Follow all the instructions. If in doubt call over an election official to help walk you through the process.
11. When you have finished, see if there is anyone else you can help either with water, food or a seat.
12. Encourage people to stay until they vote, keep up their spirits after a long wait, help people stay focused on what is needed this election time and what we are up against.

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-29-08 12:43 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Excellent, Porschenut1066 -- thank you! nt
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