It’s Take Action Wednesday (Yes, I know it’s Tuesday)

Suggesting an action today is easy-peasy.

If you live in a “Super Tuesday” state:

GET OUT AND VOTE!

If you registered a while ago, and can’t remember where to go, it’s real easy to look up your polling place or caucus site.  No excuses!

Don’t live in a “Super Tuesday” state? Well, get your civic ducks in a row. Here are some valuable actions you can take if you are not voting today:

1) Make sure you are registered to vote!

2) Check out the date of primary elections in your state (nerdy bonus: this link is also a voting results tracker!) and make sure you’ll be available to vote on that day. If you won’t be home or have a work conflict or another schedule issue, see if your state allows early voting. If your state doesn’t allow early voting or you won’t be home for that either, get an absentee ballot (link includes info for military voters).

3) Know where to vote on voting day so you won’t even have to think about it.

4) Research your options. You’re likely familiar with the main candidates for the two major political parties. But here are a couple more things to consider:

Local elected offices. Will there be any in contention? How would you like to vote in these elections? My primary ballot included elections for State Committeeman and State Committeewoman as well as for Ward Committee. What else will be on YOUR ballot? You can usually view a sample ballot on your state’s web site. Look for links to the Elections Division or Commission, or the Secretary of State’s Office – these are usually the departments that organize state-wide elections. If you live in Massachusetts, you can enter a little info and preview what your ballot will look like before you get there.

— In some states, if you are an Independent or Unenrolled voter (and in some states, this distinction is important), you can vote in either party’s primary election. Are you thinking about voting “not your party” to cast a vote against a candidate rather than for one? Make sure your action will have the consequence you intend. For example, in Massachusetts, any votes cast for someone with less than 5% of the total vote are allocated toward the candidate with the majority of votes. This means that if you vote in the Republican primary and cast a vote for a candidate who will not get >5% of the vote (e.g. a candidate who has dropped out or a humorous write-in candidate), you have given your vote to Trump (who is way leading in the polls). And if your intention was to cast a vote against Trump, well, you should make sure you doing what you actually intend to do. I am not against casting strategy votes, just make sure to check the rules first so your vote counts the way you want it to.

EXTRA CREDIT:
1) Make lots of posts over all forms of social media encouraging others to vote. This is way bigger than whatever you ate today or how great the sunset looks. If your polling place provides “I voted” stickers, take a selfie wearing one and post it everywhere. Let’s make sure everyone knows that voting is not only a civic duty, but also, pretty darn cool.

2) Those folks handing out and collecting the ballots at your polling place? Almost all of them are volunteers who are giving up their time to keep our democratic wheels churning. If you have the time/energy/money, bring them a little something to show them you appreciate their sacrifice – some baked goods, coffee, a fruit basket. Something that says, “thanks for sitting here so we can democratically elect our representatives.”

3) Report any problems with voting! If you are turned away, if you experience any problems, report it! Do not wait until you have finished voting. If the election officials at the polling place are unable or unwilling to help you or are violating your voting rights, the problem should be reported directly to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. There are no special forms to use or procedures to follow–just call the Civil Rights Division toll-free at (800) 253-3931.

Also, keep an eye out to make sure your polling place is not violating voter rights.  A couple years ago, my polling place had a hand-written sign at the check-in desk that read “Please have I.D. ready.” We are not a Voter ID state. I politely explained (to the election officials) that their sign was potentially discouraging legal voters who hadn’t brought their ID with them. I also called the local elections commission (at City Hall) and both major campaigns. I did this even though I had my license in my back pocket. Though I was not personally affected, I knew it was wrong, I knew that it might affect a voter without I.D., I was feeling strong enough (and safe enough) to speak up about it.

In most polling places, you should see a poster outlining your rights as a voter prominently posted (and this poster usually includes the phone number of the emergency hotline for anyone having voting problems). My polling place regularly “forgets” to post it. If you have it in you, make sure your polling place is following the rules, know how to report it if isn’t following the rules. An elected leader is only a democratically-elected leader if all voters had a fair and equal chance to vote.

4) Make yourself available to drive friends and neighbors to vote. Volunteer yourself on social media, make calls, send e-mails – if your friends, family, neighbors need help and you can help – do it.

voted

Despite voting in EVERY election since I was eligible, I think I’ve only gotten one of these sweet stickers once or twice. Maybe I need to donate some of THESE to my local polling place?

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