Important Information to Before You Head to the Polls: Know Your Status and Know Your Rights
By: Lisa M. Hayes: Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
Voter suppression efforts are at an all-time high for the 2018 midterm elections. This may be the most important election in our lifetimes. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Which is why the voter suppression machine is in full-churn. Your vote matters more than ever. So, it’s important to take every precaution to ensure you can cast it and that it counts.
Many tactics being deployed to stop certain groups of people from voting – and by certain groups of people, I mean mostly minorities. However, the scorched earth tactics being used are affecting a much wider swath of voters than just low income and minority groups. You simply can’t assume just because you’re white or privileged, your vote will be counted. So, now is the time to get prepared for what’s coming in the next few days.
IF YOUR VOTE WASN’T INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT THEY WOULDN’T BE TRYING TO SUPPRESS IT.
First things first – Check your voter status. Make sure your registration hasn’t been purged.
If you find a problem with your registration, contact your county registrar office to re-register. If it’s too late, you’ll have to request a provisional ballot.
Before you go to the polls:
- Make sure you know where your polling place is. Double check. It may not be the polling place closest to where you live. It’s important that you go to the polling place you are registered for.
- Check the hours the polls are open the day you go to the polls. Don’t assume you know. These things get changed.
- Take your I.D. and your voters registration card if you have them, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. If you don’t have them, go vote anyway.
- Find the telephone number of your local political party campaign office. Take it with you. Those people will be on call all day and can help if something shady comes up.
These are just a few of the tactics you want to be prepared for, especially if you’re voting at the polls:
1. Discouragement In The Face Of Long Lines
No matter when or where you are voting, the possibility of encountering an excessively long line is always a given. Pay close attention to anyone suggesting you “leave and come back later” when the lines are shorter, or even attempting to discourage you from voting altogether. Do not do that. “Well-meaning” bystanders, may very well be planted there for the specific purpose of getting you to walk away. Be sure to plan your trip to the polls at a time when you have some time to spare, as not to be distracted by the potentially long lines.
2. Strict Identification Requirements
If you are a registered voter, in most cases, a government-issued ID should be all you need to vote. Make certain your I.D. matches the name on your voter’s registration. If it doesn’t, contact your county and find out how to get that fixed or get your identification updated at the DMV. In some instances, you may be required to present your voter registration card, but if you notice that other voters are being given different instructions than you or anyone in your group, don’t hesitate to ask questions for clarification.
3. Unofficial Poll “Observers”
While polling places have historically been relatively hassle-free environments in many states, the volatile nature of this election year may result in the presence of people attempting to question you, or do other things to purposely irritate you until you either leave or are asked to leave. Remember to stand firm and don’t give in to anyone attempting to deter you from doing what you came to do, which is to vote.
4. Last Minute Polling Site Changes
In these last days leading up to the election, make it a point to consistently check to see where your polling location is each day. Changes in the location of the place you’re supposed to vote are a high possibility in some states and you may not be notified ahead of time if that happens.
Make sure you have a transportation plan in place before election day. Contact local churches or your county Democratic or Republican election office to inquire about rides, or rideshares.
5. Inconsistent Information About Polling Hours Of Operation
Polling sites will open as early as 6 am and close as late as 9 pm on election day. Hours of operation vary by state, so make sure you check to see what time the hours are for your state ahead of time. On the day you plan to go vote, check again before you head over just to make sure there aren’t any changes that cause you to miss your opportunity to vote.
6. Fraudulent and dishonest mailing pieces.
There are a variety ways mailers that land in your actual mailbox or your email inbox intended to confuse voters or suppress the vote. Mailers that give intentionally incorrect or misleading information regarding polling locations or even the date of the election are unfortunately common.
There is also a new tactic hitting mailboxes suggesting that Democrats commit to write-in campaigns for candidates that are “left enough” suggesting the candidate that’s running is too centrist. This intending to split the vote on the left. Don’t fall for that.
7. Blatant Intimidation
Whether it be subtle comments from other voters, angry words from protestors, or an irritated polling official who’s having a bad day, don’t let anyone intimidate you to the point that you stop yourself from voting without doing everything possible to make sure your vote is counted.
The fact that these tactics are being put to use alone should tell you just how valuable and powerful your vote is. Otherwise, why else would they be trying to suppress it, right?
If you feel threatened or intimidated do not hesitate to call 911.
More by Lisa:
Lisa M. Hayes, Senior Editor of Confluence Daily.
Confluence Daily is the one place where everything comes together. The one-stop for daily news for women.