September 09, 2008

It's been close before, and they stole it.

Time to start watching for voter manipulation and fraud. Download black box voting's PDF tool kit - it has tips I would have never thought of, including confirming your polling place before election day.... And things to watch out for, including last minute changes in polling places.

I spent six hours trying to vote in the Presidential primaries, and went to three different places to try to cast my vote. In the end, a few weeks after the election, I received a notice in the mail saying my vote wasn't counted. I registered appropriately at the library. Somewhere between there and my county voter registration office, I fell through the cracks.

Want to be sure your vote counts? Start NOW - from blackboxvoting:

Watch for: Last minute changes, polling place consolidation, confusing ballot design, shorting voting machines, malfunctioning machines, electronic poll book problems, supplies missing, not enough election workers, provisional ballot roadblocks, deceptive phone calls / fliers, deceptive ballot configurations, race left off some ballots, deceptive translations, snoop-friendly ballots, improper absentee ballot / envelope design, incorrect mail ballot insertions / delivery problems, cheat peeks.

Set news alerts: has a "News Alert" feature which allows you to set automatic e-mail notifications. Choose key words carefully, it can generate a lot of e-mail. Another easy method is to join an election protection e-mail list like

Confirm polling place before voting: Every election triggers complaints from voters when they learn that their polling place has been moved or eliminated. Of course facilities occasionally need to be changed, but we have even had reports of a husband and wife who were told to go to different polling places, even though they had lived in the same house for 20 years! This indicates a database problem. Also, due to cost run-ups from new voting machine purchases, hundreds of counties have closed polling places.

Part of election protection is knowing what to watch for. These things happen. The first time you see it, you can't quite believe it. That disbelief prevents citizens from taking crucial, immediate action. Elections are time sensitive. Keep your eyes wide open, vow to respond quickly and effectively.

The Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act was passed by the US House of Representatives and as of the time of this writing, is pending in the US Senate. This act prohibits any person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, from knowingly deceiving any other person regarding the time, place, or manner of conducting any federal election, or the qualifications for or restrictions on voter eligibility, and it prescribes a criminal penalty for such deceptive acts.

Unfair practices are deception's cousin. They come with an "Oops Excuse" and a denial that there was intent behind them. Deceptive and unfair practices are sometimes minimized by calling them "dirty tricks."

Just days before the 2008 primary, the state of Indiana invoked new voter ID laws. Last-minute changes like this disenfranchise. And that's just what happened to a group of nuns, who were dismayed to find out that they could not vote in Indiana this year because they lacked newly required photo ID.

There's a cool forum on the site as well.

We've been down this road before folks. Now is the time to get ready.