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October 26, 2004

Election Protection
Posted by Teresa at 12:21 PM * 11 comments

Fight back via Election Protection, “Protecting Voters’ Rights in 2004 and Beyond.”

Donate.

Volunteer.

Pass it on.

And if you know of any other organizations doing the same thing, please let us know.

(Thank you, Mary Kay Kare.)

Comments on Election Protection:
#1 ::: Tayefeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 12:45 PM:

Donations are even tax-deductible.

#2 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 01:05 PM:

See also VerifiedVoting.org; in particular, their TechWatch initiative is looking for techies to monitor the testing and use of voting machines (particularly touchscreen) in this election. It's a good way for geeks to make a difference; plus, you get a t-shirt!

#3 ::: James Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 03:18 PM:

My wife is volunteering with these folks. We're in Pittsburgh, but as of a few weeks ago, all of western PA was "full," so she's shipping out to Youngstown, OH, to work at a precinct there on election day.

#4 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 03:51 PM:

I'm manning a hotline.

#5 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 04:36 PM:

Thanks for the plug T and thank you all for helping keep the election honest.

MKK

#6 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 12:40 AM:

The American Trial Laywers Association is recruiting attorneys to monitor polling places.

Lawyers Brigade for Voting Rights

#7 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 04:19 AM:

As a European, who can't do anything except cheer for the good guys, can I just say how unspeakably sad it makes me that a significant number of intelligent Americans feel it necessary to monitor an election in the United States as if it were the sort of show that gets staged by some kleptocratic general in the third world to impress naive aid donors.

Best of luck.

#8 ::: Kai Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2004, 06:05 AM:

One of the attorneys I work for spent today and will spend tomorrow monitoring elections in the county just northwest of Portland.

#9 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2004, 07:31 PM:

sort of on-topic:

"Time runs short for expatriate American voters. (29.10.2004 By ALEXIS GRANT)" (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3605035&thesection=news&thesubsection=general&thesecondsubsection=&reportid=1162625)

"Five days before the US presidential election, dozens of Americans living in New Zealand have not received absentee ballots they applied for.

""We've had a huge number of people indicating that they have not received a ballot, or the ballot they received looks unusual," said Mark Chubb, New Zealand chairman of Democrats Abroad.

"For most states, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Monday. This close to the election, Americans who applied for an absentee ballot but have not yet received it should not wait any longer, say staff at the US Embassy in Wellington. Instead, they should use the on-line version of the federal write-in absentee ballot at the Federal Voting Assistance Program website (http://www.fvap.gov/pubs/onlinefwab.html).

"Mr Chubb said about 40 Democrat voters had contacted him in the past three weeks because they had not received the ballot papers they applied for....Only one American who did not receive her ballot contacted Republicans Abroad, said New Zealand chairman Bill Bailey."

I didn't get my overseas ballot, either. So I'm using the last-minute-emergency form. I'm, er, registered as Democrat. Just a coincidence, I'm sure.


#11 ::: creepygirl ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:04 PM:

Delurking: I'm a lawyer who volunteered for Election Protection in Arizona.

I was there all day Tuesday at a "problem" precinct in Phoenix, and thought people might want to hear about how well (and not so well) the organization worked.

The major problem at our precinct was a huge delay. It started early in the morning, and got gradually worse all day, (as long as 3 1/2 hours, and an average of 2 hours) until some action was taken (more on that later).

* We were able to glean that some of the reasons for the delay were as follows:

* The precinct had grown phenomenally since the last presidential election; a huge subdivision that should have been its own precinct was instead included in this precinct.

* They had a of registered voters that had not been updated since two weeks prior to the registration. This meant that many of the voters in the precinct who were registered did not show up on the list and had to fill out provisional ballots, slowing the process down.

* They had only one person checking the registration list, and the checking process was so slow that there were empty voting booths while hundreds of voters waited outside.

* The head poll worker was slow to respond to the problem. It wasn't until mid-afternoon, when other Election Protection volunteers arrived and started raising hell about the wait, that the head poll worker called his office and asked for permission to bring in Election Protection volunteers. Then we had to wait for him to receive permission to bring in the Election Protection volunteers. It wasn't until 5 or 6 that the volunteers actually got to do the work, and by that time the wait was up to 3 1/2 hours.

* Once the volunteers were in, they discovered that there was only one list of registered voters, so they couldn't add more workers to speed up the name-checking process.

* As more and more voters were checked in, the poll workers ran out of the special felt-tip pens needed for the optical scanners. A volunteer for the Democratic Party who was most familiar with the elections went out to buy more pens.

Unfortunately, the poll workers weren't the only ones who were disorganized:

* Some of the EP volunteers at my precinct apparently couldn't read the voter registration cards, and sent people to the wrong precincts. I know of two women who were sent to the the wrong precinct, because apparently an EP volunteer read "Wrong Precinct" on the School District line, and didn't read the "Right Precinct" on the Precinct line. In one case, a woman showed up at Right Precinct, was sent to Wrong Precinct by an EP volunteer there, then was sent to yet another precinct by another EP volunteer, and then back to Lonesome, but it was 7:05 pm by that time. She tried to get in line, but I am afraid she was not allowed to vote, which means that OUR OWN VOLUNTEERS disenfranchised her. As far as I can tell, EP did not train our volunteers, many of whom were from other states, on how to read a voter registration card.

Also, the confusion and lag in response time from EP headquarters on many issues slowed down our response to the problems at our precinct.

* The plan was to arrive at EP headquarters at 5 am, receive our assignments, and get to the precinct at 5:30, and introduce ourselves to the poll workers before the polls opened at 6. Because of massive confusion in handing out the assignments in the morning, we didn't reach the precinct until 6:30 a.m., by which time there was already a huge line, and we didn't get a chance to introduce ourselves to the poll workers before the voter rush.

*We reported the long wait to EP headquarters early in the day, perhaps as early as 9 or 10 am, and then again at about noon, but were not told that that these long lines were atypical, which slowed down our response to the
problem.

* We had volunteers leave at 10:00, leaving me and another woman as the only volunteers working the precinct. We
asked for more, but they did not arrive until 3:00. When they did, we finally found out that this was NOT the norm for districts, and one of the new volunteers was able to start asking questions and prodding the head poll worker about bringing in volunteers to help out.

* We were told we would get lunch delivered, but didn't get lunch until at least 3:00, which meant that we spent some time trying to figure out the logistics of getting a pizza delivered rather than focusing all of our energies on helping the voters.

*The cell phone EP provided in order for them to contact us ran out of minutes in mid-afternoon. I called EP headquarters on my own cell phone twice, was assured both times that new minutes would be added or a new phone would be brought to us, and nothing was done, not even by 9:30pm, when the last voter voted.

* We called for food for the voters in line, at about 5 or 6pm. It did not arrive until after 9, at which time all of the voters were inside casting their votes.

And then there were the voters who wanted to vote, but who hadn't registered by the deadline, which broke my heart. Clearly I need to get involved with voter registration efforts for the next election.

I want to make this clear. We didn't have a problem with voter intimidation here, We had a problem with disorganization, lack of communication, and failure to respond quickly, from the poll workers and from EP. Disenfranchisement isn't just evil people setting out to repress the vote; it can happen because well-meaning people aren't sufficiently organized and efficient.

I think we made a difference, but we could have made even more of a difference had we been more organized. I hope this election doesn't make people despair. We need you to help every vote count. We helped a lot people vote, but we can do better than this.

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