BEFORE ELECTION DAY
Fight Voter Disenfranchisement
The last several years have seen millions of people removed from the voting rolls. People of color, people with low incomes, college students, and elders are often the targets of organized campaigns to disenfranchise voters. Around the country, individuals and groups are working to counteract these unpatriotic efforts to undermine our nation's democracy.
The methods of disenfranchisement used vary from state to state. They include:
- Strict photo ID laws that leave many people without the identification required to vote, or so confused about the rules that they won't try to vote.
- Discriminatory "purging" (removal) of voters from the voter rolls, the list of voters who will be allowed to vote.
- False publicity causing voter confusion about the date of the election or location of polling places.
- Providing voting technology that introduces the possibility that a voter's votes will be flipped to candidates they have not chosen.
Become an Attorney Voter Advocate to assist voters to obtain key legal documents required by many states' government-issued photo ID laws.
We encourage you to find out what efforts are underway in your community to protect voting rights. Join in. In some places this will mean helping people get the proper identification for voting. In other places it will mean conducting community education efforts about where and when people can vote. In others it will be demanding the availability of paper ballots. And everywhere, it will mean observing, recording and reporting problems. Keep browsing this site for ideas about how to do these things. And check back often for updates and opportunities to help stop voter disenfranchisement.
Register to Vote
In order to vote, you have to register first. In most states, you have to be registered a month before Election Day; the length of time varies state to state.
You can register in person at:
- The Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Armed services recruitment centers.
- State and county public assistance offices (SNAP/food stamps, WIC, services for the disabled), where you may fill out and submit a National Mail Voter Registration Form.
Some states will allows you to register online. Check here for your own state's policy for online registration.
Verify That You're Registered to Vote
After you have registered to vote, check your voter registration information online to make sure it is correct. In many states, you need to declare a party affiliation in order to vote in primaries and you will want to be sure that your affiliation information is correct.
Check Photo ID Requirements
Some states require photo ID in order to vote. Please check your state's requirements so that you have time to get proper ID before the voter registration period in your state expires.
Find Your Polling Location
It's important to double check your polling location. Just because you've voted in the same spot for sixteen years doesn't mean the location hasn't moved.
Find Voting Info for Your State
Get information for your state on language, literacy, disability access, voter registration and voter ID info, different ways to vote, and more.
First Time Voters
Information for first-time voters on how to register, research candidates, learn about the issues, check state rules and regulations, find your polling place, and cast your ballot.
Get information on nonpartisan voter services for U.S. citizens overseas and uniformed services members.
Ex-Offender Voting Rights
In all but two states, voting age citizens convicted of a felony are barred from voting for some period of time. Laws vary in each state. While many states restore voting rights to individuals automatically after they exit jail or prison, others permanently disenfranchise people with a past felony conviction or require they petition the government to have their right restored. This site includes a short, up-to-date state guide to voting for ex-offenders.
Help Others Register to Vote
Register voters from your smartphone using a peer-to-peer voter registration app.
Send a Friend a Voter Registration Reminder
Make sure your friends are registered by asking them to join Voto Latino to receive voter registration information, deadline reminders, and election alerts.
Rock the Vote
Rock the Vote is the largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization in the United States driving the youth vote to the polls. Volunteer to register voters, educate young people about the importance of being a voter, and make sure they cast a ballot.
Become a Paid Poll Worker
The United States Election Assistance Commission has an interactive map and page that willprovide you with details on how to serve your community.
Become an Election Monitor
Review Ballot Design
Ballots are designed and printed 60-90 days before an election. Printed paper ballots are sent to voters for absentee/vote by mail voting and, depending on the voting system used at the polls, may be used on election day as well. The layout could cause the ballot to be misread by an optical scanner. There are numerous other potential problems.
Observe Preparation and Operation of Tabulation Devices Programming, and Testing Medium
This process requires a high time commitment, and a very specialized person. County or jurisdiction elections officials will most likely balk at letting this be observed in any close up, meaningful manner.
Observe Logic and Accuracy Testing
The testing itself is superficial. It's a good way to look at the machines in advance, especially if you have not been a poll worker before and don't plan to be in November. Sometimes systems display failures in the field that should have been caught at this step and it is good information to know.
Observe Absentee Ballot/Vote by Mail Processing
Observability is limited. The most important thing you can see here is the chain of custody of the ballots and see if it would be easy to misplace or lose trays of ballots.
Observe Poll Worker Training
The security measures for the machines and how to deal with problems should be covered here. If they are not, it is a red flag for either incompetence or willfulness. It is also useful to see if there is a lot of propaganda in the training regarding paper vs. paperless voting and if there is anything taught that is an election code violation.
Help Prevent Machine and Ballot Shortages
Check to see if enough paper ballots will be provided at the polls in your community. If paper ballots are used for voting (including emergency paper ballots to be used in case electronic machines fail), find out the county's policy regarding number of ballots provided to each precinct. The number should be a percentage of the number of registered voters, and this percentage should be consistent throughout the jurisdiction. Check your state elections code to see if there are specific guidelines for the number of ballots to be provided, or call your local elections office.
Note that if the voter rolls have recently been "scrubbed" of people who have died, moved away, etc., the percentage of ballots needed per 100 registered voters should be increased, as more of the names on the list will be active voters.
Assess electronic voting machine and voting station allocation for equality. If electronic voting machines are used, find out how many machines are scheduled to be provided in each polling place. (Check number of private polling stations -- “voting booths” -- as well.) Check to see that the number of machines provided is both proportionate to the number of voters and is sufficient. In other words, precincts with more voters should have proportionally more machines.
Work with your local elections official/department to ensure that they’re using best practices. Introduce them to this Polling Place Resource Planner tool.