Community Activism · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Look Carefully at Your Local Polling Place. Is It Accessible to the Disabled?

This OTYCD entry originally posted in November 2017.

 

Look carefully at your local polling place. Is it accessible to the disabled? Make note of what needs improving, and ask local electoral officials to make fixes before the 2018 midterms.

 

Today is November 7, 2017. Many state and local elections will take place. (Best of luck to the candidates OTYCD wrote about who are running in Virginia, New Jersey, and Manhattan.) If you’re going to the polls today, please look carefully at your local site and note how well it serves your disabled neighbors.

 

If you see things that need fixing, please bring them to the attention of your local electoral commission so they can be addressed before the 2018 midterms.

 

A note on photography: While you shouldn’t have problems taking photos of the exterior of the polling site, be careful when taking photos inside the voting area. Never photograph filled-out ballots, and make sure to take your photos when there’s no chance of a filled-out ballot appearing in your shot. If you end up needing to send your photos to state or local election officials, take care to blur the faces of any voters who are visible, to protect their privacy.

 

Things to look for:

 

Are there accessible parking spots near the poll site? Are they clearly designated and marked as such? Is at least one of the parking spots van-accessible (There’s a parking space and an area to one side of the parking space that’s painted with white or yellow diagonals)?

 

Are there ramps or a side entrance with no stairs that a disabled person could use to enter the building? Are the entrance doors wide enough to admit a wheelchair and easy for a wheelchair user to open (no funky old locks or latches)?

 

Once inside the building, are there sufficient elevators and ramps to allow disabled people to reach the area where the voting booths are placed? Are the elevators wide enough for a wheelchair? Are the elevator buttons at a height that wheelchair users can reach (no higher than four feet from the floor)?

 

Are there signs that point voters to the polling site? Where are they hung? How legible are the signs–are they clearly written and clearly printed? If your community speaks more than one language, are there signs in every major language? (If the poll provides ballots in that language, it should have signage in that language, too.)

 

Is the actual voting area laid out in a way that would allow wheelchair users to get around easily?

 

Is there at least one booth that’s wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair? Does it have a writing surface that’s at a height that would be useful to a wheelchair user?

 

Is there at least one vote-tally machine that is designed for use by wheelchair users?

 

What options are provided for blind voters, and for people who don’t use wheelchairs but who might need to sit to fill out their ballot?

 

Is there a long line to vote? (If you have a stopwatch function on your phone, use it to time the length of the wait.) Was the weather bad or challenging in any way? What accommodations are there (if any) for people who cannot stand for extended periods of time?

 

If the site cannot be made sufficiently accessible for disabled voters, does it offer curbside voting instead?

 

Another note for those who have disabled friends who want to vote: Do not advocate for them unless they explicitly ask you to help them.

 

If they do ask you for help, listen to what they say, watch what they do, and be alert to their needs. When in doubt, ask them what they want you to do. When you’re both in doubt, you might want to call your state Protection and Advocacy Hotline (scroll down for the link).

 

If you do spot something that seems like a problem, do not storm up to a pollworker and demand it be fixed then and there. Instead, compose an email or letter, or write down a script to use when calling the officials who choose, equip, and operate polling places.

 

Stay factual. Stick to describing what you saw, explaining why it’s problematic, and asking what can be done to make it better.

 

Keep following up on your request with the goal of fixing things before the 2018 primaries take place.

 

 

If you or someone who came with you to the polls are denied their right to vote–for any reason–you can call the Election Protection Coalition Hotline. A trained lawyer will answer and help with troubleshooting:

1.866.OUR.VOTE (1.866.687.8683)

 

 

If you or a disabled friend hit a disability-related problem that stops you from voting, you can call your state’s Protection and Advocacy Voter Hotline:

Directory of Protection and Advocacy Voter Assistance Hotlines 2016

 

 

Here’s a link that will help you find your state or local election officials:

https://www.usa.gov/election-office

 

 

Here’s a link to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Checklist for Polling Places:

https://www.ada.gov/votingchecklist.pdf

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

See the National Disability Rights Network’s page on voting:

http://www.ndrn.org/en/public-policy/voting.html

 

 

See the National Council on Independent Living’s links to resources on making the vote accessible:

Voting Accessibility – Media & Resources

 

 

Special thanks to Sarah at the National Council on Independent Living for her help with researching this post.

Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Support Spread the Vote, Which Helps Citizens Obtain IDs

This OTYCD entry originally posted in July 2017.

 

Support Spread the Vote, an organization that helps citizens access the ballot by obtaining IDs that their states require.

 

Republicans have noticed that they are more likely to win when fewer voters turn out. For this reason, they have embraced anti-democratic (small d) moves such as placing restrictions and qualifications on access to the ballot. Requiring prospective voters to present specific forms of identification is a favorite of theirs.

 

Voter ID laws suck, and they constitute the modern version of a poll tax. It hits the poor, the working class, the elderly, the young, and minorities particularly hard.

 

Some lack the documents they need to obtain ID, and cannot muster the money needed to hunt down those documents. Some can’t get the time off work to stand in line at City Hall or the DMV to straighten things out. Some are college students, whose college IDs are not generally accepted, and who receive conflicting information about where they can vote (home or on campus).

 

Enter Spread the Vote. Its mission is to help people get the documents they need to access the ballot. According to its numbers, 21 million people lack a government-issued photo ID, and 31 states require some form of ID to vote.

 

By helping Spread the Vote, you help expand the pool of eligible voters and defeat bullshit obstacles thrown up by Republicans who find it easier to frustrate citizens rather than develop ideas and policies that people would want to vote for.

 

Spread the Vote is and has conducted state-specific projects in Virginia and Georgia, but its scope is nation-wide. Please encourage their good work in whatever manner you can.

 

 

See Spread the Vote’s webpage:

https://www.spreadthevote.org

 

 

Ask for its help with obtaining an ID so you can vote:

https://www.spreadthevote.org/vote/

 

 

Volunteer for Spread the Vote:

https://www.spreadthevote.org/volunteer/

 

 

Like it on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/SpreadTheVoteUS

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@SpreadTheVoteUS

 

 

Donate to Spread the Vote:

https://secure.squarespace.com/commerce/donate?donatePageId=58727f25f7e0ab8a674b88bb

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

Action Alerts · Community Activism · Uncategorized · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

All the State Deadlines to Register to Vote in the 2020 Primaries, Compiled by Head Count (Please Spread the Word on This NOW, in January 2020)

Are you registered to vote? Do you need to help friends and family register to vote in time for their state’s 2020 presidential primary? Here’s a list of all the state deadlines.

 

If you want to vote in the 2020 presidential primaries, you have to register. If you’re not super-hyper-mega plugged in to politics, you might only notice your state’s primary before it happens but after the voter registration deadline has passed.

 

One of the many ways you can help push back against Trump in 2020 is make sure it isn’t just you going to the polls. You can help friends and family vote, too.

 

The good folks at Head Count have compiled a master sheet of all the state deadlines to register to vote in 2020. Bookmark it and share it early and often.

 

It’s important to start talking to people about deadlines to register to vote in the state primaries NOW, in January 2020, because the earliest of those deadlines fall in February 2020, and one deadline — South Carolina’s — takes place January 30, 2020.

 

Head Count is an excellent nonpartisan organization that sets up shop at concerts and helps register newly eligible young people to vote.

 

See its main website.

 

See its voting information page.

 

Learn how to volunteer with Head Count.

 

See the list of upcoming events at which Head Count will appear.

 

Donate to Head Count.

 

Like Head Count on Facebook.

 

Follow Head Count on Twitter.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Are You Registered to Vote? Are You Sure? Better Check.

Are you registered to vote? Are you sure? Like, sure-sure? Hmmm, better check anyway, just to be safe, ahead of the November 3, 2020 vote.

 

You can’t vote in the 2020 primaries or the general election without being registered to vote.

 

Unfortunately, the GOP has gotten into the lousy habit of purging people from voter rolls as a strategy for maintaining power. Maybe not in your home state, but certainly in states they control.

 

If you’re in a Republican-controlled state, or you’re in a 2020 swing state, you might want to check your voter registration periodically in the lead-up to the primaries and the general election in fall 2020.

 

Here’s how to confirm your voter registration status.

 

If you haven’t yet registered, and you’re eligible, here’s how to register to vote. A total of 38 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow you to register to vote online.

 

The broad information on how to register to vote and how to check if you’re still registered comes from USA.gov.

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

Community Activism · Elections · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Help Andrew Gillum Register Floridians to Vote in Time for the 2020 Presidential Race

This OTYCD post originally appeared in March 2019.

 

Help Andrew Gillum register Floridians to vote ahead of the 2020 presidential race.

 

Gillum made headlines when he fought valiantly in 2018 in the Florida gubernatorial race. (He was narrowly defeated by Republican Ron DeSantis.)

 

Far from being cowed by the loss, Gillum has devoted himself to fulfilling the promise of Amendment 4, which voters passed last year.

 

The amendment passed with 65 percent of the vote, more than the 60 percent required to make it law. It will re-enfranchise more than a million Floridians–possibly as many as 1.4 million, the numbers vary–who were barred from voting after a felony conviction.

 

Republicans know all too well that the more people vote, the more likely their candidates are to lose.

 

And they also know all too well how critical Florida has been to presidential contests. The 2000 contest hit a serious snag there, with recounts and hanging chads and other absurdities. Ultimately, the Supreme Court stepped in and ruled in favor of Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore in a decision that deserves eternal side-eye.

 

Though Amendment 4 was well-written, state-level GOP are doing their damnedest to neuter it. They’re trying to pass a law that would force all ex-felons to pay any and all remaining court fees before they’re allowed to vote again, a move that many have called out as a variation on a unconstitutional poll tax. [Update, June 2019: the state legislature did indeed pass that law, which makes support for Gillum’s efforts that much more important.]

 

Gillum, who had many options available to him after his impressive campaign and close loss, has chosen to invest his momentum in an effort to register as many new Florida voters as possible.

 

Gillum created Bring It Home Florida to ensure that Amendment 4 works as designed, and to make the state as fierce a fight as possible for Trump in 2020.

 

We at OTYCD are going to beat the voter registration drum hard in 2019, but we’re starting here.

 

The most important thing you can do this year, the year before the presidential contest, is to register or help register as many people to vote as possible.

 

We need to recruit new voters and we need to encourage people to vote. The more who vote, the more likely we are to vote Trump out of office in 2020.

 

If your funds are limited, the smartest use of your money in 2019 is giving it to Get Out the Vote (GOTV) organizations such as Bring It Home Florida. Even more so than giving it to candidates, to be honest.

 

If your budget allows, please, do both. But if it doesn’t, put your money into signing people up to vote and removing barriers to voting.

 

An interesting final note on this. Rick Wilson, a onetime GOP operative who lives in Florida, and author of Everything Trump Touches Dies, had this to say about Bring It Home Florida on Twitter on March 21, 2019, not long after Gillum unveiled the initiative:

 

1/ A few words about Andrew Gillum’s plan to register a million new voters in Florida.

 

2/ Once upon a Time in the dark ages of the early 90s the Republican party of Florida got off its ass and started registering voters. This was during the era of Tom Slade, a two-fisted balls-out party chairman and after.

 

3/ Then came the era of complacency and corruption with Charlie Crist and Jim Greer. (Wrote about it in years ago. You can Google it.) Rick Scott hated the party and ran his own independent operation. We kind of slacked off on the whole voter reg thing.

 

4/ Fastest growing voter demo in Florida forever has been non-party affiliated. Basically a tie ball game between the Republicans and the Democrats. Democrats have seen greater greater growth in South Florida, Republicans in North Florida, broadly speaking.

 

5/ Democratic party of Florida is a gigantic trainwreck without the ability to get out of its own way, to mount a serious campaign operations, or to win statewide races by and large.

 

6/ Current #: R: 4.7 D: 4.9 NPA: 3.6 The NPA FL voter in the last 20 years is *broadly* a Shy Tory R voter. Call it 55-60ish%. or may disagree, but we can parse it later.

 

7/ So if is serious, and registers and IDs and *activates* even 500,000 it’s a game changer up and down the ticket. Hillary Clinton’s people talked about doing something similar, but it was a complete Potemkin village.

 

8/ It would be of much greater consequence than a quixotic presidential bid. If roughly half the Democratic field did the same they would alter the shape of American politics, but doing the gut work of politics is boring and hard.

 

So, please, let’s support the guy who passed up a run at the presidency to do the boring, hard gut work of politics.

 

 

See the Bring It Home Florida website:

Home

 

 

Donate to Bring It Home Florida:

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/bringithomefl

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Like Bring It Home Florida on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/BringItHomeFlorida/photos/?tab=album&album_id=787690298266063

 

 

Follow Bring It Home Florida on Twitter:

@BringItHomeFL

 

 

Read about the passage of Amendment 4 in 2018:

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article220678880.html

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/07/665031366/over-a-million-florida-ex-felons-win-right-to-vote-with-amendment-4

 

 

Read about Gillum announcing the creation of Bring It Home Florida:

https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2019/03/20/gillums-red-flag-plan-to-stop-trump-1m-new-florida-voters-927053

Andrew Gillum announces voter registration effort: ‘Are y’all ready to flip Florida blue?’

 

 

Read about the Florida GOP legislator’s attempt to neuter Amendment 4 by creating what amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax:

 

 

Elections · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Read Alexandra Erin and Courtney Milan On Why You Need to Vote, Even Though 2020 Won’t Be Fair

Read Alexandra Erin’s and Courtney Milan’s tweets on why you need to vote, even though the 2020 election almost certainly won’t be fair.

 

Alexandra Erin is a goddamn genius. We’ve said as much before, and we’re sure to say it again.

 

Her political tweets are marvels of insight and clarity. It’s tempting to devote blog posts to all her threads, and we avoid this only through serious discipline.

 

But she said some things in the wee hours of June 30, 2019 that need your attention. If you’re not on Twitter, or on Twitter and missed it, here you go.

 

It’s about the 2020 election, and what we’re facing, and why we need to vote anyway, no matter what fuckery and nonsense arises.

 

It’s in response to a June 29, 2019 thread by Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) on the same subject.

 

We’re cutting and pasting the tweets as they appeared. Below them you’ll find info about Erin and Milan.

 

Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) kicks it off:

 

A thing that is weird to me is that the Republicans seem to understand how the Democrats win elections, but the Democrats don’t.

 

See, it’s actually very simple: high turn out favors the Democrats. The higher the turn out, the better it is for the Democrats.

 

That’s why the entire Republican playbook is about disenfranchising and setting up stumbling blocks. Yes, some of those stumbling block differential hurt Democrats, but basically, all stumbling blocks hurt Democrats.

 

But the *spoken* words of Republicans and Democrats alike suggest that Democrats lose elections because they don’t convince enough Republicans, and that’s simply not true. Democrats don’t win elections because US voter turn out is abysmally low.

 

And so there’s this game that the media plays—and that Democrats play—and that the GOP plays—where we act like the election will be decided by three coal miners, the same three, every year. When the election will be decided by turn out.

 

If we care about electability, the question we need to be asking ourselves is: Which candidate is going to maximize turnout? Not: which candidate is going to convince three coal miners?

 

If it were easy to vote, we wouldn’t have any red states. We’d have a lot of deep blue states, some light blue states, and a handful of purple ones that would oscillate from year to year.

 

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why the US is so different than their est of the world and—after looking at public opinion polls—I’m actually convinced that our population actually isn’t substantially more conservative than the rest of the world.

 

The issue we have is that a lot less of our population votes, and even if you consider only the voting population, our system is set up to magnify the votes of some segments of the population and to squelch the votes of others.

 

The truth of the matter is that if Democrats could enact laws that permanently got voter turnout to around 80%, the Republican party (at least in its current form) would case to exist in two to three election cycles.

 

 

Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin) responds with her own thread:

 

We are not headed for a fair election. Not anything close to one. Probably the worst of my lifetime. Doesn’t mean we can’t win it. We definitely won’t if we don’t try, though, and that’s what the GOP counts on.

 

And this is the thing! This thing is the thing. The thing, it is this. For all that Bret Stephens talks about “ordinary people” like they’re red state racist rust belters, these guys *know* that this country skews blue and at least likes to think of itself as decent. [She’s referring to a late June 2019 Op-Ed in the New York Times.]

 

They know that “ordinary people” have some empathy and recoil from raw cruelty (when it’s not made palatable to them somehow).

 

And so while the digital arm of Trump’s campaign of despair does use incredibly sensitive data targeting, the everyday “ops” are far more broadly targeted.

 

The fewer people who vote, the more easily they can control the outcome. The fewer people who vote, the more the people they *prevent* from voting count, the more any votes that get changed count, the more their own votes count.

 

There is not a solid red state in this country. Whatever state you’re thinking of… nope. It’s got deep blue pockets and every election it could be a serious battlefield. They use gerrymandering and voter suppression to change that…

 

…and use psychological ops to obscure that this is what they’re doing. Call something a red state and half of us are ready to abandon it, even if they’re holding onto it by their fingernails. By the skin of their teeth.

 

The more people here in the US vote, the more progressive candidates and policies will win. If we can internalize that, if we can mobilize on that, if we can use that… then we can win so hard the GOP dies. And then let people choose between different visions of progress.

 

 

Follow Courtney Milan on Twitter:

@courtneymilan

 

See Milan’s website:

http://www.courtneymilan.com

 

See her blog:

http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/

 

 

 

Follow Alexandra Erin on Twitter:

@alexandraerin

 

Read her blog here:

http://www.alexandraerin.com

 

Support her here:

https://www.patreon.com/AlexandraErin

https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=3OEHAVn8SOrIky4-Et3gYMrIZxIW5Z1nOQZWj5CqEvnfzABpi01GyKbzHqSgZeI3xxfLxG

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

Candidates · Choose Your Core Four · Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Believe It, You Matter, Part XIV: Feel Your Feelings and Vote Anyway

Believe It, You Matter, Part XIV: Feel your feelings and vote anyway.

 

Hi, I’m Sarah Jane. I write all the Believe It, You Matter entries. I’ve long since forgotten what Roman numeral I’m up to so I apologize if I’ve used 12 before.

 

Anyway. I’m here to talk about voter suppression, in part because the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) bizarrely (and irresponsibly, IMO) threw up its hands (well, five of the nine did) and essentially said it couldn’t do anything to stop gerrymandering, not even the ludicrously extreme gerrymanders drawn to explicitly corral and nullify the votes of one party.

 

This is the latest bit of news that could dispirit us. And hey, it’s OK to feel dispirited about such a thing. But please, please, do not let it stop you from voting, ever.

 

No matter what, show the fuck up and vote, and help others vote, too.

 

Republicans know, and have known, they can’t win if they can’t stop people from voting. Blatant, flagrant cheating, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attempting to defang Article 4’s re-enfranchisement of more than a million felons by requiring them to pay assorted fees before they can cast a ballot, is one such move.

 

But the vote-suppressors work in subtler ways as well, ways that get less attention.

 

One of those ways is fostering despair and disgust with the whole voting process.

 

They try to make people feel that voting doesn’t matter, and it’s not worth the trouble.

 

It does, and it is.

 

As we advance into 2020, be alert to attempts to dispirit you and yours about the act of voting. It’s already happening, it’s happening in particular on social media, and not all of it is the work of bots, btw.

 

They’re doing it because it works, even if it’s kind of oblique and hard to quantify. The vote-suppressors don’t have to get everyone to stay home, or specific people to stay home. They need just enough people to stay home to make a difference.

 

You need to carry on talking to you and yours about the importance of voting, and removing obstacles to voting, both literal and figurative.

 

You need to tell people they matter, and their vote matters, and there are people out there who want them to give up and stay home. Fuck those people.

 

Now, when you talk, you should be straight with them. Acknowledge that fuckery is likely in 2020. Trump has explicitly said he would accept information foreign governments offer him about his opponents, which prompted the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission to issue a statement saying that accepting anything of value from a foreign government is a crime. Mitch McConnell has consistently refused to advance bills that would protect the integrity of the 2020 election.

 

Republicans, in particular, are doing whatever they can to suppress the vote.

 

Go out and vote anyway. Go out and vote, faithfully and always, and help others vote, too. Every time. No matter what fuckery abounds.

 

Hell, go vote IN SPITE OF the fuckery. Flip the bird by throwing the lever for a Democrat.

 

Also, keep talking to your friends and family about the importance of voting.

 

Talk about how excited you are to vote for specific candidates, and say their names, out loud, often.

 

Do this even if it feels like it’s not enough.

 

Do it even if you feel like no one is listening to you.

 

Do this even if the crisis du jour is turning your mood grim. If you need to take a break to work through your feelings, do it, and come back.

 

Vote even if the Democratic candidates look like they’re running away with it.

 

Vote, because you matter, and your vote matters.

 

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