Protect the right to vote!

Cara at Feministe has a great post on things you can do to help make sure that people are able to vote in the US election (if you’re in the US– sigh!), many of them from Color of Change. Here are a few– do them if you can!

1. Put the number 1-866-OUR-VOTE into your cell phone, write it down, or whatever works for you. This is the hotline to call if you have, witness, or hear about voting problems. A quick reaction to such problems is vital, so be ready in case something happens!

2. Make sure that you and those you know check their ballots and voting machines carefully to be certain the proper vote has registered. (I probably don’t need to remind you why!)

3. Don’t wear political gear, however tempting it may seem: in some places you won’t be allowed to vote if you do.

4. Sign up with CREDO Action to join the Immediate Response Network for Election Day. What does that mean? From their email:

Here’s how the program works:

Here at CREDO headquarters, we hear about an election protection emergency in [Your] County — say college students are being forced to wait in line for hours to vote, or pollworkers are requiring voters to present photo ID even though your state’s laws allow non-photo ID, like utility bills.
We’re concerned about these reports, but we want to make sure they’re true. So we vet and verify them through the media and our sources on the ground.
We send you a text message — a quick summary of the problem and an easy way that you can take action and make a difference. “Students waiting for hours at City Hall — bring pizza!” Or maybe, “Pollworkers illegally requiring photo ID — call Board of Elections!”
We’ll give you all the information you need to ensure your time is well used — for example, if we ask you to call your Board of Elections, we’ll text you the number to call. If you need to hurry to a hotspot to protest voter intimidation, we’ll text you the address. Chances are that we may not text you at all, but if we do, it will be because you have a real opportunity to protect voters in your county and in your state.

If you don’t have or prefer not to use text-messaging, you can also sign up for email alerts. This is something you most likely won’t be required to do, but could make a huge difference if necessary. Please sign up if you can!

Take Action: Prevent Disenfranchisement

A vastly important action, and lucky for you a simple one too:


This year, there are over 600,000 newly registered Ohio voters, but President Bush has asked Attorney General Mukasey to investigate as many as 200,000 of them. Why? Because Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has refused to use an “exact match” standard before adding these voters to the rolls.

What is this “exact match” standard? Basically, it works like this: After you fill out your voter registration card, a local or state employee has to type in your information to add you to the voter rolls; then state authorities check to see that you really exist, usually by verifying your driver’s license number or Social Security number. And as you can imagine, sometimes there are typos or other disparities when the information gets entered and matched – for example, if your last name is “De la Rosa” and it got entered as “Delarosa”, you would fail to meet the exact match standard, and your registration form would be invalid.

Secretary Brunner has refused to use this standard on the grounds that it would erroneously deprive tens or even hundreds of thousands of Ohioans of their right to vote. The Ohio GOP sued her a month ago to try and get the courts to compel her to use the “exact match” standard, but the Supreme Court ruled that they had no standing to make that case.

Now, President Bush is trying to run around the Supreme Court by getting the Department of Justice to intervene. On Friday, October 24th, Bush reportedly asked Attorney General Mukasey to investigate whether as many as 200,000 voters need to reconfirm their registrations before November 4th. This is hugely problematic, for a couple of reasons:

  1. Obviously, for 200,000 voters to reconfirm their registrations before Election Day would be a logistical nightmare for Secretary Brunner, for Ohio’s county Boards of Elections, and for the voters themselves, most of whom would have to vote provisionally.
  2. The only reason the Department of Justice has jurisdiction to intervene here is because of the Voting Rights Act, the entire purpose of which was to expand, not suppress, the right to vote. This action would be completely contrary to the spirit of that law.
  3. New registrants tend to be young people as well as people who move around a lot – a particular problem in the midst of a foreclosure crisis. Imposing an exact match standard would create a second class of citizens when it comes to voting rights – a group of people who are far more likely than most to lose that right altogether.

President Bush is doing his best to further politicize the Department of Justice and suppress the rights of Ohio’s voters, but Attorney General Mukasey doesn’t have to bend to this insidious tactic. With the election only days away, the time to act is short – please sign this petition today to tell Mukasey to say no to President Bush’s request. Ohio’s voters are counting on you.

Go here to sign the petition. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)