Guest Author - Tracey-Kay Caldwell
You are ready to do your civic duty. You are ready to have your voice heard. You are ready to vote. But you get to the polls and you have a problem. Maybe they tell you that you are at the wrong polling place. Maybe they tell you that you are not registered. Maybe the voting machine records the wrong choice for your vote. What to you do?
The non-partisan Election Protection Coalition has the answers for you. Since 2001 Election protection has been there to assist voters and protect their rights. Their live call centers will be staffed with trained operators to provide state specific voter assistance. They will have lawyers, poll monitors, and additional volunteers standing by in sixteen key states. They will have Spanish-speaking volunteers available. They will inform and assist voters in resolving issues that arise, such as voter identification requirements, voting machine malfunctions, and voter intimidation. When a problem occurs, do not leave the polling station. Nationwide, call toll free, 1-866-Our Vote. An Election Protection volunteer will work with the local election officials to resolve the issue and if necessary take immediate legal action. Recently the coalition was able to assist frustrated voters in Marylandís September Primary, where human error and poor administration caused failures and widespread malfunctions. They were able to keep the polls open late in Montgomery County and Baltimore city, in order to give everyone an opportunity to vote. You can check to see if you are registered to vote and your polling place before you go to vote at MyPollingPlace.
Thirty million voters will be using new voting machines for the first time and Election Protection is anticipating significant challenges for many voters. The problems voters encounter on Election Day will be recorded in an Election Incident Reporting system. This will allow lawyers to track problems in real time and take appropriate action. The information collected in this system has been used to support the coalitions lawsuits advocating for voter rights. Advocacy groups have used this data when working to improve voter laws in local, state and national elections.
This is an election where every vote counts. It is essential to our system of government that every voter has faith in our electoral system. The only way to ensure a large voter turn out is for everyone to know their vote counts. It is the Election Protection goal to see that every voter casts a vote that will count. Go vote today, make your voice heard. Choose the people who will represent you in the running of our government. This is the day when you have the power. Go vote, exercise that power, but go prepared with Election Protections number in case you have a problem. Make sure your vote counts.