Saturday, October 18, 2008

Disenfranchised at the polls

What if you get to the polls on November 4 and are told you are not registered? What are you going to do?

And how did it happen?

That's the whole point of the "voter fraud" brouhaha - to distract you from the voter roll purges currently taking place that will disenfranchise legal, entitled voters. And then, when it seems too late to do anything about it, you are expected to go, "Wha?" and wander in dazed and ineffectual confusion.

Paranoid? I don't think so.

Everyone needs to know what is going on AND fight back.

Jamess has an extensive article on this at Daily Kos and I urge you to read it.

CBS News has picked up the story but we are far from widespread awareness.

Question: What can a Voter do to Protect themselves?

Answer: 1) Don't take No for an Answer!

2) Cast a Provisional Ballot and

3) Call a Voter Hotline

[Also you can usually (4) lookup ahead of time to see if you are still registered to Vote in your State.]
There are, of course, legitimate reasons for purging voter rolls. When I moved to Albuquerque I needed to be taken from the voter roll in Hercules, California. The deceased need to be removed from the rolls and bereaved families do not, I suspect, often notify the county with voting in mind. The county needs to use death certificates and check them against the roll of registered voters. Felons may not vote, though in a few states convicted felons who have completed their sentence and "paid their debt to society" may be reinstated as voters. Check your state laws. All of this is normal business for county election offices.

What is the scope of the issue of maintaining current and correct rolls?
Both the Brennan Center for Justice and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group have independently called into question the methods states use to clean up their voter rolls and the integrity of the information those purges are based on. Roughly 13 million names were purged from the rolls in 2005 and 2006, and while most of the removals were legitimate, that still leaves thousands likely disenfranchised, they say.
A 5% error rate (and yes, I just pulled that number out of my ass - unlike Bill O'Reilly, I admit when I do this) would yield 650,000 legitimate voters up the proverbial creek and most likely without much of a paddle. That is a bit more than the population of metropolitan Albuquerque and a bit less than the population of the entire State of Alaska. What if an entire state showed up to vote and couldn't?

What if it happens to you?

1) Don't take No for an Answer!

2) Cast a Provisional Ballot and

3) Call a Voter Hotline

This is a good reason to vote early where possible or to vote by absentee ballot as your right to vote has been verified in sending you the absentee ballot.

You can read background on voter hot lines here. Each state has its own regulations and procedures so be sure to check out your state. This is a PDF file for New Jersey voters. In California the Voter Assistance Hotline is 1-800-345-VOTE. I give these as examples. You're a clever lot so I know you can google the information for your state. Your Secretary of State web pages should provide the information you need. My fellow New Mexicans, you can check here.

Now, VOTE!
--the BB

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