politics

The survival of our democracy—and the survival of a habitable environment and climate—depends on having free and fair elections. This post includes some tips and recommendations of specific ways to help preserve the integrity and security of the election: to make sure that your vote and other people’s votes are counted. (Scroll down to see all of our tips, especially item #4 re. mail-in voting vs. voting in person.)

To get started, I hereby offer up the following resources and tools for getting clear, accurate, official information on the voting options and rules in your state/county (beware of disinformation that’s being spread, particularly on social media, and be aware that each state and county has somewhat different voting rules and options). Further down, I have also listed groups that are involved in helping to counter voter suppression (and disinformation and intimidation) tactics and protect the election (from election fraud, tampering, cyber hacking, manipulation, foreign “interference,” or errors; individual voter fraud is almost non-existent and is readily detected, so it is not a major threat).

Please review, use, and share some of these resources and tools:

The Best Way to Vote in Every State: A comprehensive guide to making sure your ballot gets counted, no matter where in America you live (Slate)

Plan Your Vote. Everything you need to know about mail-in and early in-person voting (state by state) (NBC)

State/County Voting Requirements and Information directory (U.S. Vote Foundation)

State by State Voting Information Links (The Green Spotlight)

How to Prevent Your Mail Ballot from Being Rejected (Washington Post)

State Laws on Early Voting (National Conference of State Legislatures)
[Note: 41 states have some form of Early Voting in place.  Only 9 states—Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina—do not offer pre-Election Day, in-person Early voting options.]

Tips to Mitigate Threats to Our Votes and Voter Registrations Before November (Jennifer Cohn, Protect Our Votes)

Four Ways to Safely Cast Your Ballot Without USPS (Democracy Docket)

 

Orgs/websites for voting information:

and/or contact your county’s Elections office/department/board/registrar (or your Secretary of State’s elections division) for official, local, up-to-date voting and ballot information.

Orgs/websites re. election protection/integrity/security (including legal action) efforts and safeguards (please click on/follow/share a few, and pick one or two to support/volunteer/join!):

Also follow and share our: 
list of Voting / Elections accounts on Twitter 
and our Twitter posts

 

TIPS & RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. Register early (don’t put it off until your state’s deadline), and re-check your registration periodically, including just over than a month before each election to make sure your name hasn’t been purged and to give you enough time to fix any problems. Make sure your registration has your current address and all of the other information is also correct and has not been altered (name, party preference, etc.). Save a screen shot of your registration and bring that or your registration confirmation card/postcard with you as proof (just in case they say you’re not listed on the voting rolls), if you’re voting in-person.If you move more than a month before the election, re-register to vote right away with your new address. If you have to move within the month before the election, find out if your state allows last-minute or Same-Day Registration during Early Voting or on Election Day; or if you’re moving near-by, ask your County elections office if you are still allowed to vote at the poll location for your old address or what your other options are.
  2. Make sure you have the required ID (if any is required in your state). Go to VoteRiders.org or go to your Secretary of State’s elections website or your County’s elections/voter registrar site to find out whether/what ID is required to vote. If you need help obtaining or paying for the correct ID before the election, contact VoteRiders or Spread the Vote for assistance ASAP.
  3. Ask your County elections office/Registrar of Voters whether your County provides Hand-Marked Paper Ballots on Election Day as well as during Early Voting (preferably as the default option, instead of touchscreen/computer voting machines or ballot-marking devices, but at least as an option that you can request instead of the machines), as well as paper pollbooks (lists of voters) as a backup in case their electronic pollbooks malfunction/fail (e.g., Internet connection or power goes out) or are hacked into and tampered with. Ask/demand that your County and State provide: Hand Marked Paper Ballots, paper pollbooks (at least as backup), and no modem/Internet (i.e. hackable) connections for voting machines or ballot scanners; also tell them they must save all ballots and digital ballot images to allow for audits or recounts. Ask them if they will have plenty of local polling places open throughout your County/State so people won’t have to travel far from their neighborhood to vote. Not everyone has a car. (Providing large, centralized voting “centers” is not a good replacement for having many, neighborhood-based polling places. Also, county-wide voting centers will not have paper pollbooks on hand, which can cause serious problems if the e-pollbooks fail.) For more info on these issues, follow @jennycohn1 on Twitter or see ProtectOurVotes.com.
  4. IF your County provides Hand-Marked Paper Ballots (as regular ballots, not just “provisional,” and they are also provided during Early Voting): I’d generally recommend voting in person (preferably during the Early Voting period to avoid lines and any unexpected issues on Election Day), particularly IF you are young and healthy and you feel confident that your daily schedule will allow you to go vote in person. (Also see #8, 9, and 10 below for more on voting in person.) On the other hand…
    IF your County/precinct (only) uses computerized voting machines (e.g. hackable BMDs or DREs), or IF you are elderly or at high risk if you get COVID, or IF you anticipate extremely long lines in your precinct or not having the time to go vote in person for any reason (work, childcare, etc.): it would be better to request a mail-in/absentee ballot if your state allows that [no-excuse absentee voting is currently allowed in two-thirds of the states]. Please follow these steps:
    1) Apply for your absentee ballot as soon as you are allowed to (don’t wait until the deadline); find info on how to do so on your Secretary of State’s elections site;
    2) When you receive the actual ballot, be sure to read and follow the instructions on it very carefully to make sure you fill it out correctly; sign it where requested (which might be on the return envelope) with your typical signature (the same way you signed when registering to vote or on your driver’s license, for potential “signature matching” issues in some states) so they won’t have any cause to reject it (the GOP will be looking for any excuse to challenge/reject mail-in ballots); unfortunately, rejections of mail-in ballots are frighteningly common, especially for inexperienced voters (please contact your County if you have any questions about their instructions, which are sometimes confusing). Note: If you make a mistake on your ballot, contact your county elections office to find out how/where you can bring your “spoiled” ballot in to have it voided and get a new one (or bring the spoiled ballot to your polling place and have them replace it with a clean ballot).
    3) Return your completed ballot as early as possible, ideally dropping it off directly at your County’s elections office or another designated ballot drop-off location/box within your County (since USPS mail service could be significantly delayed and it might not get post-marked or delivered in time). If you mail it, mail it at least two weeks before the election and with as much postage on the envelope as is required. [Note: Some states will not accept ballots that are mailed via non-USPS services such as UPS or FedEx.]
    4) Look up whether your state/county offers a way to track your ballot and confirm that it has been received and accepted/counted. Track its status if you can. If you find out or are notified that it has been rejected, please go in to “cure” (fix) your ballot if you are allowed to (some areas allow this). Be aware that most places will not start counting any mail-in ballots until Election Day, and some ballots will not be received or counted until after Election Day.
    If you don’t receive your mail-in ballot at least two weeks before the election, report that to your County’s elections office (and Secretary of State), and if it doesn’t arrive in time, go vote in person instead, ideally during Early Voting. If it arrives within the last 10-14 days before the election, do not send the completed ballot back by mail, due to postal delays; drop it off at a designated location instead.
  5. Sign up to be a paid poll worker or “election judge” (for Early Voting and/or for Election Day), as there is a shortage of poll workers in many areas due to COVID (in the past many poll workers have been seniors, but they have good reason to sit this one out due to COVID risks). If there aren’t enough poll workers, counties will close poll locations. See WorkElections.com, Power the Polls, or Poll Hero, or contact your County’s elections office directly to find out how to apply. Be sure to wear a face mask and a face shield when working at the polls.
    Or sign up to be a poll monitor/observer/watcher, to help prevent and report any voter suppression or intimidation, correct or report poll workers who may be providing false information, or other problems at the polls; or to observe the counting of absentee ballots. The Republican Party and Trump campaign plan to deploy an “Army” of “poll watchers” (and intimidators, though that is not legal) and they will be looking for any excuse to challenge and reject ballots, so we need to have plenty of poll monitors and count monitors of our own. Contact your state or local Democratic Party, the Biden campaign, or a local candidate/campaign to sign up to be a poll observer.  #WatchTheVote
  6. Alternatively, volunteer with Election Protection / Common Cause’s Protect The Vote program. People with legal experience can contact We the Action for call center and/or field program opportunities.
    Or “consider volunteering with ProtectOurVotes.com to photograph precinct totals (as shown on precinct poll tapes posted outside many polling places when the polls close) and compare them to the county-reported totals for those precincts. If the two don’t match, this suggests that a potentially serious problem occurred with the tabulation and may support an election challenge.” #PhotoFinish
    You could also volunteer with the Scrutineers. To be involved in additional vote protection efforts on election night and beyond (e.g. taking periodic screenshots of election tally results from state or county websites as votes are counted), see item #21 here, and follow @jennycohn1 on Twitter for other suggestions.
  7. Volunteer for or donate to voter outreach/education/registration, and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts (such as texting voters from your computer), through your state or local Democratic Party, a battleground state’s Dem. Party (e.g., PA, AZ, NC, WI, FL, GA, IA, KS, MI, OH, MT, TX, NV, MN, ME, VA, NH, CO; SC, KY, AL, MS), a specific campaign, or a group such as: Mobilize.US, MoveOn, Swing Left, NextGen America, Indivisible, Democrats Abroad, LastElection.org, Sierra Club, Progressive Turnout Project, When We All Vote, Fair Fight, March for Our Lives, Voto Latino, NALEO, Rock the Vote, Black Voters Matter, More than a Vote, Overseas Vote, Nonprofit Vote, DSCC, DLCC, DCCC, NDRC, or All on the Line, among many others. Also, remind all of your friends to vote!
  8. If voting in person, bring your completed sample ballot with you (which should be sent to you in the mail, or you can download one online) to work off of when filling out your real ballot. Also bring a mask, some water/snacks (maybe some to share too), and perhaps a portable chair/stool if there could be long lines. Offer to drive someone to the polls with you (a senior, young person, neighbor, or someone else who might not have a car). Request a paper ballot that you can mark with a pen. And Jenny Cohn says, “If you must use a touchscreen, compare the human readable text on the paper printout (if any) to your completed sample ballot to ensure the machine didn’t drop or flip your votes. Very few voters will notice such dropping or flipping — especially for down-ballot races — without doing this comparison.” Make sure no races, candidates, or other items are missing.
  9. If you encounter any problems or irregularities (or questions) prior to or during voting, contact the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683 — save that number in your phone and share it with others; it’s 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA for help in Spanish). If problems are not immediately or adequately resolved, you should also report the issues to your County Elections office, your Secretary of State’s elections division, your state Democratic Party, the DNC, local or national media, on social media; and/or to legal groups such as Democracy Docket, the ACLU, and you can also send/post a note to @jennycohn1 on Twitter. Do not give up on voting without first at least contacting Election Protection for assistance, and do not vote a provisional ballot unless you confirm with Election Protection that that is the only way you will be able to vote. If there are long lines, please stay in line. Anyone who is in line at the time that polls “close” must be allowed to vote.
  10. Keep your ballot receipt/stub (if provided), and look up whether your state/county offers a way to track your ballot and confirm that it has been received and accepted/counted. Track its status if you can. (Some states allow you track your ballots through BallotTrax.) And if it isn’t accepted/counted, report that (see the list of groups in the previous item). In highly populated cities, counties, and states, it could take several weeks for all votes (particularly mail-in and overseas/military ballots, some of which won’t arrive until after Election Day) to be counted. Do not expect final or certified election results immediately after the election. Patience is a virtue. Accuracy is more important than instant gratification. (It is wildly irresponsible for any news media to “call” races prematurely, before almost all votes have actually been counted, including mail-in ballots. Please remind media and others about this on social media.) If the reported results differ significantly from recent polls and exit polls, support recount and audit efforts. We must insist on election transparency, security, integrity, and verifiability, especially at a time when Russian operatives are again actively working to manipulate our election like they did last time.
  11. Avoid sending anything non-crucial (or ordering anything to be shipped) through the US Postal Service (except your mail-in ballot, if you can’t drop it off instead) for the three to four weeks preceding the election, up through the day after the election (from at least Oct. 13 – Nov. 4)—to try to enable the USPS to process all of the ballot mail.

 

For additional info and tips, see our previous voting posts:

Also follow and share our: 
list of Voting / Elections accounts on Twitter 
and our Twitter posts

I will be adding some more information and links to this post in the coming days and weeks. So please check back again! And please use and share some of this info with friends. We need all hands on deck to protect and save our democracy.

Vote like your life depends on it and everyone’s future depends on it. Vote for democracy, basic decency, health, sanity, justice, facts and rationality, equality, stability, security, fairness, ethics, and a livable environment.

In solidarity. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

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August 31, 2020
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We hope you’ll follow our Twitter account, and also check out and Subscribe to some of the topic-specific lists we’ve compiled on Twitter, featuring other accounts (people and groups) worth following. Note: Click on the “Members” link to see the accounts you may want to follow within each list:

Climate: news, info, groups, leaders, scientists
(also see Katharine Hayhoe’s list of climate scientists)

Nuclear (weapons and energy/power): experts, news, information, anti-nuke groups, disarmament, arms control, etc.

Fracking: anti-fracking groups, leaders, news, and info

Voting / Elections: election information, election protection/integrity, voter education, voting rights

Democracy vs. dictatorship: experts on authoritarianism, autocracy, fascism, dictatorship, oligarchy, kleptocracy, theocracy, tyranny, political science, history

Civil rights / Equality / Black America: racism, bigotry, discrimination, injustice, white supremacists/nationalists, police brutality, etc.

Indigenous / Native: news, info, groups, and leaders

Latino: news, info, groups, and leaders

Immigration and refugees: immigrant, refugee, migrant, and asylum rights and advocacy groups

Women’s rights: Women’s advocacy, representation, equality, bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, equal pay

Economic inequality: economic (in)justice, poverty, the ongoing redistribution of more $$ to the most wealthy, kleptocracy, predatory capitalism, exploitation, unemployment; labor rights, fair/living wage, unions

Veterans: news, info, advocacy groups, and leaders

National security: e.g., foreign policy, war, military, safety, peace

Legal minds: Lawyers / attorneys; legal scholars, analysts, experts; justice, Rule of Law, constitutional law, criminal law, etc.

Sociopathy / DT’s pathology and disorders: Experts on Anti-Social Personality Disorders (psychopaths/sociopaths), malignant narcissism, pathocracy, con men, cults

Animal protection: Animal rights, advocacy, rescue, and welfare/protection groups (for wildlife and for domesticated animals)

Youth / young adult organizations: Groups of and for young people, students, Gen Z, millennials, etc.

Anti-Hate / anti-racism: Groups and leaders for justice, equality, humanity, coexistence; and Against hate, supremacy, extremism, and terrorism

We also have Twitter lists for specific states and regions, e.g. Appalachia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and North Carolina. We’ll be adding more lists over time, and we also add more accounts (members) to some lists as we discover them.

See all of our Twitter lists here.

You can also follow/”Like”  The Green Spotlight on Facebook for daily posts.

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May 27, 2020
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Use the links below to find information about upcoming elections in the U.S.: primaries and general elections, as well as any special elections or runoffs for your state, county/municipality, or congressional district.

Please verify that you are still registered to vote via your Secretary of State’s election division or your County’s elections office (click on one of the top links under your state name, below). Ideally, check your status at least once before each election, preferably more than a month before election day, so that you still have time to correct any problems. Confirm that all of your registration information (name, address, party preference, SS/ID #) is correct and current (i.e., it hasn’t been purged or altered). If you have moved since you last registered, you need to re-register to vote.

Also follow the groups listed in this post on social media for ongoing updates, and please share voting links and info. for your state with your friends (online and off). Many states have changed the dates of their primaries (and Early Voting periods), or are changing their rules related to absentee/mail-in ballots. Periodically check for and spread the word about any changes!

To start off, here are some general resources that are useful for people across the United States. For more specific, state-by-state information and links, scroll down to the next section to find your state (listed in alphabetical order).

General/Nationwide Resources:

Also see (and subscribe to) our Twitter list of Voting-related groups and experts

Our other voting posts include additional links and suggestions:

 

State-specific Election/Voting Links:

In addition to using the links provided under your state name (below), be sure to look up your County’s Elections office/Registrar/Board. You can contact them (or your Secretary of State’s office) to verify that you’re still correctly registered, and to ask questions about current voting rules, local polling places, etc. You could also contact them to inquire about serving as a poll worker, and/or to request that the county/state provide hand-marked paper ballots rather than touchscreen voting machines (which are not nearly as secure or accurate).

Also do a search in your web browser or on social media (e.g. Twitter or Facebook) to look up the sites/pages for your state’s chapters of: the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Indivisible, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Democratic Party, ACLU, All on the Line, and any Fair Elections/Fair Maps/Fair Districts/Redistricting (anti-gerrymandering) groups in your state.

Use one of first 3 links under your state name to look up when your state’s voter registration deadlines are (some states allow Same-Day/election-day registration), and to find out if your county/state allows Early Voting (and if so, when/where) or Absentee/Mail-In Ballots so you can avoid any lines, obstacles, or risks on Election Day.

ALABAMA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

ALASKA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

ARIZONA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

ARKANSAS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

CALIFORNIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

COLORADO

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

CONNECTICUT

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

DELAWARE

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

FLORIDA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

GEORGIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

HAWAII

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

IDAHO

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

ILLINOIS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

INDIANA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

IOWA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

KANSAS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

KENTUCKY

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

LOUISIANA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MAINE

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MARYLAND

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MASSACHUSETTS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MICHIGAN

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MINNESOTA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MISSISSIPPI

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MISSOURI

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

MONTANA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEBRASKA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEVADA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEW JERSEY

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEW MEXICO

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NEW YORK

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NORTH CAROLINA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

NORTH DAKOTA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

OHIO

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

OKLAHOMA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

OREGON

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

PENNSYLVANIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

RHODE ISLAND

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

SOUTH CAROLINA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

SOUTH DAKOTA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

TENNESSEE

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

TEXAS

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

UTAH

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

VERMONT

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

VIRGINIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

WASHINGTON

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

WEST VIRGINIA

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

WISCONSIN

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

WYOMING

Also see the recommendations provided at the beginning of the State-specific section of this post (immediately above the Alabama heading).

 

Washington, D.C.

Puerto Rico

 

I really hope you will use and share some of the links provided in this post. And please vote in every election. Democracy is not a spectator sport, and our freedoms are not guaranteed. Unfortunately, it’s become painfully clear that if we take our democracy and our rights for granted and we don’t use (and assert) our rights, we are going to lose them. 

 

Also see (and subscribe to) our Twitter list of Voting-related groups and experts

Our other voting posts include additional links and suggestions:

 

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February 21, 2020
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This is a selected listing of some of our posts on topics that are directly related to social and political action or activism:

 

Also see our Democracy vs. Dictatorship list of accounts on Twitter, our Voting / Elections list, our other Twitter lists, our Twitter posts, and the daily news posts on our Facebook page.

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July 15, 2019
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These are “things” that I care deeply about and that I believe truly matter and are worth standing up for, protecting, and supporting (in addition to one’s own circles of friends, family, and community):

– A life-sustaining climate
– Clean (unpolluted) air, water, soil/land, and food
– Democracy
– Equality
– Liberty, freedom, self-determination, bodily autonomy, choice
– Truth, facts
– Justice, fairness, accountability
– Human rights, civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, reproductive rights, indigenous rights/sovereignty
– Animal rights
– Wild lands, healthy ecosystems, natural habitat, biodiversity, wildlife, endangered species, rights of nature
– Disabled, ill, vulnerable, afflicted, homeless, or impoverished people
– Empathy, compassion, kindness, mercy (without borders)
– Reducing unnecessary suffering
– Non-violence; non-violent protest and dissent; de-escalation of conflict
– Basic decency and respect: the Golden Rule (“Do unto others…”)
– Integrity, ethics, courage
– Dignity, self-restraint, magnanimity, humility
– Affordable, universal healthcare (including mental healthcare)
– A free/independent press; investigative journalism; an informed citizenry
– Science; and science-based, evidence-based policy and decision-making
– Education, critical thinking, reason, wisdom
– The Common Good

I recommend giving some real thought to your own values and priorities (and desired legacy), and sharing your own mini-manifesto or values/mission statement with others.

As Elie Wiesel so wisely said:

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering…  We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

It’s important for people to show and tell other people what they stand for and will stand up for (and not only the things we stand against).

That said, the opposite of many of the things listed above are things that I stand against, e.g.,:

pollution; the production, use, and dumping of toxins and toxic waste (including nuclear); fossil fuel extraction and burning; authoritarianism, fascism, white supremacy/nationalism, theocracy; hatred, dehumanization, discrimination, racism, sexism, misogyny, patriarchy, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia; extreme income inequality, exploitation, unequal pay; scapegoating (e.g., of immigrants, people of color, and poor people); violence (including child abuse, domestic violence, violence against women, violence against protestors), war-mongering; police brutality, excessive force, abuse of power, mass incarceration, discriminatory judicial decisions and sentencing, victim blaming; corruption, greed, oligarchy, predatory and exploitative capitalism, money hoarding, wealth redistribution from the poor and middle class to the wealthy, materialism and over-consumption, industry (private profit-driven) influence/control over policies, regulations, and laws; selfish individualism and personal entitlement at the expense of the health or well-being of others (e.g., neighbors, humanity, future generations, other species, etc.); gerrymandering, voter suppression and disenfranchisement, election hacking and fraud, ballot tampering; propaganda, lying, disinformation, misinformation, “information warfare,” smears, anti-science sentiment and policy, disproven conspiracy theories, paranoia, fear-mongering, denial of facts, willful/proud ignorance, hypocrisy, trolls, tabloids, sensationalist media; portraying/covering politics and elections as a game, sport, horse race, or entertainment; harassment, bullying, humiliation, ridicule, personal attacks; animal cruelty, exploitation and commodification, poaching, poisoning, habitat destruction, over-hunting; human supremacy; the contamination and depletion of natural resources.

-ML

 

NEW: Posts related to Democracy, Voting, Elections, Social Change

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May 20, 2019
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The protection of our democracy and the livability of our planet and its climate are dependent on having a more well-informed populace. It is increasingly important for people to be able to identify and combat disinformation, propaganda, smears, lies, dogma, unfounded conspiracy theories, and “fake news” from unreliable sources, in an era when online bots and “trolls” are being weaponized from outside and inside our country to spread misinformation by infiltrating social media groups and political campaigns, to wage personal attacks on candidates and sow discord, division, doubt, paranoia, hatred, chaos, and even violence. Many well-intentioned people have been unwittingly spreading lies because they were duped by cleverly concealed information warfare campaigns (often started by their adversaries or hostile regimes).

“Falsehood will fly from Maine to Georgia, while truth is pulling her boots on.”
– C.H. Spurgeon

To be well informed, you need to feed yourself a healthy, balanced diet of nutritious, fact-based, high-quality information. Avoid ingesting (or sharing) junk. Avoid all tabloids and sensationalist, entertainment-focused media; also avoid watching most cable news (especially FOX “News,” which has essentially become a fact-free outrage machine and propaganda arm of the GOP), panels of shouting pundits, and all Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned news stations. Avoid sharing articles that may not be accurate, or information that comes from highly biased or hyper-partisan publications/sources or from unknown or potentially illegitimate sources. If you’re in doubt about the accuracy of a claim, look it up on the key fact-checking sites (e.g., Factcheck.org, Politifact.com) and do a Google search to see what several reliable sources say about it.

Most importantly, seek out (and share) news from the most truth-seeking, investigative, and reputable media outlets. Of course, some journalists and reports are better than others, and even strong publications will have flawed pieces or flawed fact-checking sometimes. Readers still need to be able to engage in critical thinking, and to be able to distinguish between factual news reporting and opinion pieces (or PR pieces) from commentators, columnists, or pundits. Educators should help teach students these essential skills.

Here are a few media outlets that have regularly produced sound, informative reporting and are widely considered to be reliable, fair, trusted sources of news (though of course no publication, journalist, or human can or will ever be 100% bias-free or mistake-free):

Some additional publications that are also well-regarded and often feature informative articles (but that have sometimes been prone to more criticism or may require a more skeptical eye on certain pieces) include:

The New Yorker, The AtlanticThe New York Timesthe Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, The Economist, Slate, The New Republic, Bloomberg, Politico, The Nation, and Salon.

Note: This is, of course, not an exhaustive or even comprehensive list of media worth paying attention to. If there are other trusted publications that you regularly read, feel free to mention them in the Comments.

Also be sure to check out the following:

Environment, Climate, Energy, and Science Media

Also see: End Climate Silence  (Twitter page)

Fact-checking Sites

Media Integrity/Watchdog Groups

Press Freedom Advocates

It’s important that those of us who can pay something for real journalism actually do so, so that real news outlets (including local/regional newspapers and local public radio stations) can survive and not be entirely driven out by profit- and ratings-driven, sensationalist media (and lie-spreading, non-journalistic websites). Choose at least one reputable news source to subscribe to as a paid subscriber—ideally at least one local and one national or international publication—to be informed, to show your support, and to help keep them afloat. We can’t expect competent, professional journalists and writers to work for free, and we don’t want news media to be reliant solely on their major advertisers, who might expect them to alter (or censor) their content to serve the advertisers’ special interests.

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March 28, 2019
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The following are some groups of (and/or for) young people who are leading and inspiring positive change and fighting for a livable future. These organizations represent various age groups (from children to teens to young adults / Gen Z and “millennials”), and they are building powerful social movements for climate action, intergenerational and environmental justice, and youth awareness and empowerment. Most of the following groups are based in the United States.

Many of the following groups could fall within any/all of the three categories listed below (environmental/climate action, education, and political/advocacy), but I’ve tried to put each group under the category that might be most applicable:

Environmental / climate action:

Zero Hour
Our Children’s Trust
Sunrise Movement
Fridays for Future
Earth Uprising
Youth 4 Nature
SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Justice and Sustainability
International Youth Climate Movement
Earth Guardians
Defend Our Future
Hip Hop Caucus
Brower Youth Awards
International Eco-Hero Awards (Action for Nature)
Turning Green
ECO2school youth leadership program

Education:

Institute for Humane Education
Alliance for Climate Education
Global Student Embassy
Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots
NatureBridge
Children & Nature Network
Teaching Tolerance
(And for often-informative teen media, see: Teen Vogue, the online magazine)

(Also see: Green Curricula and Environmental Learning Activities)

Political (including voting advocacy):

NextGen America
Rock the Vote
HeadCount
Campus Vote Project
Cap, Gown, Vote!
Alliance for Youth Action
Hip Hop Caucus
Millennial Politics
Young Invincibles
Youth Empower (Women’s March)
March for Our Lives / Vote for Our Lives
Youth Over Guns
Students Demand Action
Young Democrats of America
College Democrats

You can find these and other youth/young-adult-focused organizations in our Twitter list.

What are some other youth-led or youth-focused groups that you think people should know about? Please mention them in the Comments!

Related posts:

 

#ClimateStrike #GreenNewDeal

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December 18, 2018
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Before the next election, you may be looking for ways to step up to help make sure that more people will vote, are able to vote, and know their voting rights and their local voting rules, and to try to ensure that everyone’s votes will be properly counted.

If you haven’t already signed up with a group or a campaign to help Get Out the Vote (GOTV) or to help with election protection efforts (e.g., serving as a poll worker or poll monitor or hotline volunteer), below are links that will make it easy for you to get plugged in. Pick one (or two) groups or activities and sign up as soon as possible so that you can get whatever training and materials you need. And if you’re willing to go to a swing state or swing district near you, get on board right away so you have enough time to make your plans. You don’t have to be an extrovert; there are all sorts of GOTV activities to choose from.

Further down this post, we’ve also listed where you can go to find voting guides or other information about who and what will be on your ballot, so that you can do your research and be as well-informed as possible about what you’ll be voting on before you go vote.

 

Poll workers

Become a poll worker in your city or county (via WorkElections.com, or Power the Polls, or Poll Hero)

Also see this compendium of state-by-state requirements:
Be a Guardian of Democracy, Be a Poll Worker!

 

Poll monitors / watchers / observers

Common Cause: Volunteer to be an Election Protection poll monitor

Election Protection’s Protect the Vote: Volunteer, non-partisan poll monitors

Election Protection / We the Action: Field Program (for lawyers, paralegals, legal professionals, and law students)

NOTE: Parties and campaigns also assign poll monitors to the polls.

 

Hotline volunteers

Election Protection / We the Action: Call Center (for lawyers, paralegals, legal professionals, and law students)

 

Get Out the Vote (GOTV) groups

(reaching out to registered voters via texts, calls, door-to-door canvassing, postcards, or events, etc., to increase voter turn-out)

Note: Some states allow same-day voter registration on Election Day. As of 2018, they include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. (And North Dakota doesn’t require registration.) A few states (including CA and MT) also allow in-person, late registration in the days/weeks leading up to Election Day. Other states may be adding same-day/Election-Day voter registration soon. Contact your county’s elections office for details on voter registration deadlines and Early Voting options. (Most states offer an Early Voting period.)

For a list of additional GOTV and voting advocacy groups (and more tips), see our earlier post.

 

Voting Guides, Voter Education: What and Who Is On Your Ballot?

These sites can help you learn about the candidates and the issues that you’ll be voting on:

To be really well informed, also be sure to read the information provided in your state’s and county’s official voting/ballot guides (they should be mailed to you, or be available on your state and county elections websites). I’d also recommend reading multiple editorials and endorsements from trusted newspapers in your state and from trusted organizations (e.g., your local Sierra Club chapter, your state’s League of Conservation Voters, your state’s or city’s League of Women Voters, NRDC Action Fund, Let America Vote, Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, or VoteVets.org). Be wary of claims made in TV and radio ads and mailers. Many ads (though not all) are funded by special interests, rather than groups that represent the public interest (the common good). Also, mailers could fraudulently claim to be from your local party or other entity, or could contain other false information (about voting dates, poll locations or hours, your registration status, voter ID requirements, etc.). Beware, and do not allow yourself to be intimidated or suppressed from going to to vote. If in doubt about your local voting rules or poll location, check with your county’s elections board/office or your Secretary of State’s elections office.

 

Election Security and Voting Rights

At the very least: Make sure you bring the correct ID or proof of residency/address (if your state requires that; see VoteRiders or contact your state’s elections office to find out exactly what’s required). Vote early if your area offers Early Voting options (then you’ll have more time to help others get out to vote on Election Day). If you are in one of the states or counties that uses electronic touchscreen voting machines, ask if you can use a hand-marked paper ballot instead. And you should make sure you get your ballot receipt after voting, and keep it until the election has been certified and you’ve verified with your county or state that your vote was counted.

If you experience or witness any voting problems or irregularities, report them immediately to the Election Protection hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) [or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA for Spanish); or text “Our Vote” to 97779. (Put those numbers in your phone now.) Also report problems to your County elections office and your Secretary of State; and if the problems are not resolved, you could also report them to your state’s party, the DNC, local campaign headquarters, and/or to local media or on social media.  If a poll worker tells you that your voter registration isn’t active or is incorrect in some way, please contact the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline before you accept a provisional ballot or before you give up and leave.

Some states that have done massive/overzealous “purges” of voters from their voting rolls in recent years (per the Brennan Center) and/or who have a recent history of using voter suppression tactics, include: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. So these are states that need extra GOTV and election protection (e.g., poll watching, and well-informed poll workers) assistance and vigilance. [Note: Of those 18 states, the only ones that currently allow same-day/Election-Day registration are: Colorado, Illinois, Maine, and Wisconsin. So if voters in those states have been wrongfully purged, they can re-register on Election Day and vote.]

Check out (and distribute) the tips sheet below for some additional recommendations, and you can find more information on election protection/security and voting rights here:

Tips (many not obvious) to Protect Your Voter Registration and Vote Against Hacking and Glitches,”  by Jenny Cohn, attorney and election integrity advocate

Also see our new posts:

Make It Count: How to Protect Your Vote and Everyone Else’s

State-by-State Voting Information for the 2020 Election

and our earlier post:
Voting and Election Tips and Resources, 2018

Please read and share/post this tips sheet. Thank you!!

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October 26, 2018
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Please check out some of the sites and organizations listed below. Follow, share, and support a few of them (and share this post with others). Check/verify your voter registration status before each election (and re-register if it needs to be corrected or updated), and encourage others to do so, too. And find a way to get involved (e.g., by registering new voters, volunteering for a campaign or a voting advocacy organization, or working at or monitoring the polls on election day; see the second half of the post, after the links listing, for more detailed suggestions). But even if you do nothing else, please VOTE. 

I’m not too proud to beg and plead. It’s not an overstatement to say that our future and the collective future of humanity, our democracy, and our planet will be substantially determined by the outcome of the upcoming election. (Far too few voters showed up to vote during the last mid-term election and the last presidential election, with some disastrous results.)

vote411%20election%20needs%20-_0Vote in your state’s primary, as well as in November’s General Election. There are always important state and local issues on every ballot. Voting in the primary is also a great opportunity to do a “dry run” before the General election in November. It will give you a chance to verify that you are still properly registered, figure out where your polling place is, and make sure you have the required ID (if any), etc.

Voting / Election Information
(check your current voter registration status, register or re-register to vote; get ballot/election information, ID requirements, poll location, etc.)

You can contact your County’s elections office or your State’s Secretary of State office re. your registration or for voting rules and requirements. Or see:

Fact-checking resources (for info. on candidates’ claims and statements):

Also see our NEW posts (2020):
State-by-State Voting Information for state-specific links; and
Make It Count: How to Protect Your Vote and Everyone Else’s

 

Voting-Related Advocacy Groups

* The asterisked groups make endorsements of specific candidates.

Environmental:

General:

 

Consider volunteering for or donating to your favorite candidates (for state, local, or federal offices) or to some of the election/voting groups listed above, or to political/campaign groups* such as:

 

“Voting isn’t a valentine. It’s a chess move.” – Rebecca Solnit

[As I interpret this quote, it basically means that your vote should be strategic and rational. You don’t have to love or be thrilled about the preferred, viable candidate or think s/he’s perfect or will agree with you on every single thing; almost no person will. And even if you feel that you’re choosing the “lesser of two evils” in a given race, that is always the more responsible thing to do than to allow the worst of two evils to win… Better is good. Better is always better than worse.]

It’s important to recognize that voter suppression laws (including many restrictive ID laws and fewer voter protections, enabled by the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act), voter intimidation efforts, voter roll purges in some states, voter database hacking (Russia is known to have “scanned” all states’ voter rolls in 2016, and database breaches were detected in many states!), and other such forces will continue to have a negative impact on our elections, so we need to do everything possible to counteract and outweigh all of these attempts to curtail people’s right to vote.  I feel an extra responsibility to vote, since so many people who should be able to vote will not be able to (some only because they’re seniors or students who haven’t been able to go get the required form of ID in time, or formerly incarcerated people who have done their time but are still disenfranchised).

 

Here are very specific ways you can help—10 steps you can take between now and election day—to try to ensure a high turnout and the best possible election outcomes:

1. Verify that you are still registered to vote (at your correct, current address): Go to 866OurVote.org or Vote411.org or RockTheVote.com and click on your state and follow the links, or contact your county’s elections office (or Secretary of State’s office) directly. Tens of thousands of voters may have been (wrongly) purged from the voter rolls in several states. (States that have done extremely aggressive purges include: Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Nevada, Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, and New York.) Make sure you aren’t one of the voters whose name has been purged, ideally at least a month before you arrive at the polls on Election Day, before your state’s voter registration deadline has passed. Also send / post these links for your friends, and ask them to check and re-check their registration status before the election (especially if they didn’t vote in the last one). If you’ve moved since you last registered or you are not yet registered to vote, register or re-register right away, before your state’s deadline (only some states currently allow election-day registration or are instituting automatic voter registration).  You can pick up a voter registration form at a Post Office (or a library or other government building) located in your county; or go to RockTheVote.com or 866OurVote.org, or better yet, go directly to your county’s elections office to register in person.

The upcoming general election is on Tuesday, November 6 (2018).  If there’s any chance that you won’t be able to get to your polling place before it closes on election day, fill out the absentee/mail-in ballot request form to receive a mail-in ballot before the specified deadline. When you receive your ballot, be sure to follow the instructions and fill it out carefully; sign it where specified and drop it off at a designated location (best option) or mail it in plenty of time (ideally well before Election Day) and be sure to put enough postage on your mail-in ballot when you send it in; in some cases, more than one regular stamp is required.

2. Sign up to help with voter registration drives, if the voter registration deadline hasn’t already passed in your state (see the link above or look it up at your Secretary of State elections website), or help with a campaign’s Get Out the Vote efforts. You can help register voters or GOTV through your local Democratic Party office and local candidates’ offices, among other groups (see the links listing above). If you’re able to go to a “battleground” county or state near yours, that’s great. NextGen Rising has a great web tool that makes it easy to text progressive millennials. Also, encourage students and young voters that you know (who will be 18+ by election day) to register to vote and to show up to vote. (Assist them in filling out their registration form completely; send them links to voting/ballot information, and make sure they see the state and county voting guides that explain what’s on their ballot.)

You can also help people figure out how to get the ID that they (might) need in order to vote in your state (see item #9 below), or drive them to the DMV to apply for their ID. In addition, though it may be too late at this point (to qualify for this election), encourage and help anyone you know who has been wanting/trying to become a citizen to complete the naturalization process; you could even offer to help contribute to their steep citizenship exam fee.

3. Sign up to be a poll worker at a polling place, through your County’s elections office (find information at WorkElections.com), or volunteer as an election observer or poll watcher/monitor, through groups like Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, your local or state Democratic Party, or various civil rights groups. Here is a helpful summary of what you need to do to be a poll worker or a poll watcher in each state. Alternatively, you could volunteer to help staff the Election Protection hotline to answer voting-related questions and to record and respond to reports of voting problems. (Lawyers and law students are especially wanted, but anyone can help.)

4. Find out whether your state and county’s voting systems are reliable and publicly verifiable (i.e., have a paper trail that can be audited for accountability); most state and counties do use auditable systems with a paper trial, but some still don’t. For example, Georgia’s touchscreen voting systems do not currently employ best practices. Go to VerifiedVoting.org, which works for election integrity/preparedness, to learn more. While voter fraud (e.g., voter impersonation) is extremely rare and is not easy to get away with (so it not a cause for real concern), incidents of vote hacking (and voter registration hacking) could potentially occur in some states, counties, or precincts. See this detailed list of Tips to Protect Your Vote and Voter Registration from Glitches and Hacking. Also see the tips sheet at the bottom of this post for a partial list, which can be easily printed for or distributed to others.

Contact your Secretary of State’s office and your County’s elections office to request that they take all precautions to prevent ballot hacking and tampering, and to provide secure and verifiable voting systems with an auditable paper trail.  Specifically, if you are in one of the states or counties that uses electronic voting machines, ask if you can use a paper ballot instead. And every voter should make sure they get their ballot receipt after voting, and keep it until the election has been certified and they’ve verified their vote was counted.

5. Research all of the issues, propositions, and national, state, and local candidates that will be on your ballot, so that you are as informed as possible. Don’t base your decisions on campaigns’ (often deceptive) TV and radio ads or the (often special-interest-funded) propaganda flyers you receive in the mail. Read the information that’s provided in your state and county’s official voter guides (which you should receive in the mail), as well as newspaper editorials and articles written by trustworthy, non-dogmatic analysts or journalists, and information provided by trusted organizations such as your state’s League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters, etc. Given the prevalence of lying and mis-information (especially online and on social media), it’s important to check the veracity of any wild claims or personal attacks/smears: search the fact-checks on Politifact, FactCheck.org, and Snopes. To get additional information on what is on your ballot, and where candidates stand on specific issues, check out Vote411.org, as well as Vote.org, VoteSmart.org, and Ballotpedia.org. In California, Illinois, and New York, Voter’s Edge provides a helpful, non-partisan voting guide to help you make sense of what’s on your ballot.

Educate yourself as much as possible. But if you still do not really know about or understand what a particular ballot proposition is about when it comes time to vote, it’s best not to vote on that issue.

6. Donate to or volunteer for candidates and issue campaigns that you support, at local, state, and national levels, and/or to your local (county or state) Democratic Party, the DSCC, DCCC, DLCC, and Democratic Governors Association.  Also consider donating to or volunteering for an election integrity or voting-related group, such as Election Protection, ACLU, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, MoveOn, 350Action, or others (see the links in the first half of this post).

7. Make your voting preferences known to your friends and family, via conversations or posts on social media, without resorting to inflammatory insults (no one will listen to you if you’re suggesting that they’re an idiot or worse). You probably have more influence than you think, especially among your peers and others who respect you. I know it takes some courage; when you stick your neck out on political matters, a few people might want to chop it off and might lash out in a rude or offensive manner. But if you set a civil and positive tone (and only post truthful, substantiated information) and mostly focus on reaching out to people who you know personally, you’ll get fewer reactionary or vitriolic responses. Avoid telling people who they “must” or “have to” vote for (no one likes to be be told what to do). Simply state what you will do and why, and why you think it’s important. Post links to helpful and trustworthy election information, such as links for finding polling location, hours, etc. (e.g., 866OurVote.org, or your Secretary of State or County elections website).  Consider sharing this blog post (and our other election posts) with your friends. And on or before voting day, remind your friends to vote

8. Volunteer to drive people to the polls (including seniors, young people, and others who might n0t have cars), through direct offers or via your local Democratic Party, local campaign offices, or other groups.

9. Make sure you know what the current ID requirements are for voting in your state, and bring the necessary identification document(s) with you. Many states have instituted more restrictive (discriminatory) ID requirements since the last election or since 2010: including AK, AL, AZ, FL, IA, IL, IN, KS, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, OH, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, and WV. Go to 866OurVote.org or VoteRiders.org, call 866-OUR-VOTE, or contact your State or County’s elections offices to find out about your state’s current voter ID requirements. SpreadTheVote.org can help people get the ID they need; let others know, if they might not have a current photo ID.

 

10. And of course, on Election Day (or ideally on an Early Voting day, if those are available where you are, or by mail-in ballot): PLEASE VOTE. Also remind your friends to vote, and bring at least one friend or family member with you.

electionprotectIf you experience or witness any voting problems or irregularities, report them to the Election Protection hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE, or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA) and to your County elections office and your Secretary of State; you could also report the problems to the DNC, your state’s party, campaign headquarters, and/or to local media.  If a poll worker tells you that your voter registration isn’t active or is incorrect in some way, please contact the 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline before you give up and leave. Some states are wrongly purging some voters from the voter rolls, or your registration could have been hacked. (Notify Verified Voting if you have reason to believe your registration was hacked/altered.)

Also, make sure you get and keep your ballot receipt, and keep it for at least a couple weeks after the election, until the election is settled and certified. Once all ballots have been counted, you should be able to confirm that your ballot was counted, by calling your County elections office or, in some places, you can check this online.

Again, if you’ve opted to get a mail-in/absentee ballot, be sure to follow the instructions and fill it out very carefully; sign it where specified and drop it off at a designated location (best option) or mail it in plenty of time (ideally well before Election Day) and be sure to put enough postage on your mail-in ballot when you send it in; in some cases, more than one regular stamp is required. Keep your ballot receipt.

 

Vote not just for your own sake, but for the sake of your family, future generations, vulnerable populations, humanity, other species, and the environment, atmosphere, and climate that we all share and depend on for life. Vote as if everyone’s future depends on it; it does.

 

Related posts:

 

 

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June 29, 2018
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