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Protecting your vote and representative government in the November general election

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Protecting Your Vote and Representative Government in the November General Election

by Kat L'Estrange

October 9, 2006

This alert is being issued due to widespread changes in types of voting equipment used nationwide along with new management of voter registration databases in most states as a result of the Help America Vote Act that went into effect January 1, 2006. As well, voter suppression tactics continue as get-out-the-vote groups hired by the Republican National Committee are suspected of falsifying voter registration forms in Tennessee.

ALL POINTS BULLETIN

It's time for the citizenry to take responsibility for verifying their voting registration status prior to Election Day in November. Citizens can no longer take for granted that public elections officials are able to protect their voting rights as many states and local jurisdictions contract management of the process to private voting companies, including processing voter registration forms to providing precincts with the most current voter registration lists on Election Day, to providing the ballots and computerized voting machines on which votes are cast, in addition to programming the computers that tally the votes.

In order to vote, a citizen must be legally registered in accordance with state law and must re-register to vote when voter information changes or when changing residences. The majority of citizens in the United States understand this process and abide by the law. We must question whether private voting corporations take the process as seriously given past performance and their refusal to acknowledge abysmal failures that have led to changes in the outcomes of elections disregarding majority votes and ultimately the public's desire for confidence in the election process.

In preparation for this year's midterm election, please make a trip down to the Board of Elections to check your registration status, and encourage others to do so as well. Take it upon yourself to make sure your registration status is active and accurate prior to Election Day. You'll need to take care of your registration status prior to the last day to register to vote in your state--in some states, this deadline is 30 days prior to an election--or you may have to vote by provisional ballot.

You may be able to check your registration status by phone or online, but if you can make the trip down to the Board of Elections, please do so. While you are there, please ask them to confirm:

* the polling location where you are authorized to vote in your precinct.
* hours of operation at the polls.
* what type of identification is required and acceptable to allow you to vote.
* if computerized voting machines are being used what steps must be taken to document any difficulty using them during the voting process, and is it possible to cast your vote on a paper ballot instead (some states give voters this option).
* how you go about volunteering to work at the polls or request the opportunity to observe the process.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT

Knowing full well that one way to win elections is to keep the opposition's supporters from voting, widespread misinformation is being spread to prevent certain members of our communities from voting. This anti-democratic practice has occurred throughout our nation's history, but appears to be on the rise especially in urban and isolated rural communities affecting a large portion of minority voters. It has been reported that individuals are hired by political parties, and/or other interested parties to challenge voters at the polls or who fail to process opposition party voter registration forms, which is not realized by the person registering until at the polls when it is most often too late to process another registration form.

In Tennessee last week, elections officials began an investigation of falsified voter registration forms submitted by get-out-the-vote groups, Tennessee Victory 2006 and Liberty Consultants, led by Nathan Sproul who was hired by the Republican National Committee in August. Sproul is suspected of re-registering an unknown number of voters falsifying voter information, e.g., adding incorrect dates of birth and social security numbers without permission of the voter. This would make the voter ineligible to vote by regular ballot on Election Day. Elections officials were made aware of the errors by the voters when they received new voter registration cards in the mail. Sproul was linked to registration fraud in the 2004 election as well in at least 8 states, and even still remains on the RNC's payroll.

Teams of other criminally-minded individuals linked to the Republican Party have also been found guilty of phone jamming in order to deprive voters of accurate information or last minute reminders or updates from opposition candidates on or just prior to Election Day. The goal is clearly to deny voters of their voting rights at the polls in order to change the outcome of the election.

All the more reason why you must check your voter registration status now or as soon as possible to ensure you are accurately registered to vote. Do not leave the process up to your local elections officials, but do inform them if you suspect fraud has occurred. We must denounce these practices as despicable and anti-democratic.

Some common myths about the voting process circulating in communities now include:

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Kat L'Estrange is a voting rights activist and strong advocate for honest elections in the United States of America, and has been involved in the grassroots election reform movement since the 2000 election. She has worked actively to raise public (more...)
 

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Protecting your vote and representative government in the November general election