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Protect the Integrity of Local Elections

All elections are important but many voters pay scant attention when national offices are not on the ballot. Tomorrow Nov 8 is a good example.

City council and school board elections traditionally were non-partisan but in recent decades have become ideological battlegrounds that have tremendous influence on our youth and our future. With less publicity and interest, off year elections are much more susceptible to voter suppression and fraud.

Everybody thinks it’s the other side that cheats. In fact, some excuse dirty tricks by claims that they are balancing the cheating from the opposition. Both sides do have their tricks, many of which are legal – such as Rush Limbaugh encouraging Republicans to vote in Democratic primaries – so we all have a stake in discouraging and reporting election irregularities. I have my own opinion as to which side currently cheats the most but historically dirty tricks and fraud are non-partisan.

The atmosphere of your polling site should be neutral and non-threatening for all. If someone is campaigning too close to the polling site or if posters are on site, this and other seemingly innocent abuses should be reported and corrected. If the vote suppressing activity is outside the polling place boundaries and therefore legal, you can offset the intimidation by acting as a welcoming face supporting all who come to vote.

Allthingsdemocrat  has an excellent post on preventing election fraud. Despite the partisan source, the information is nonpartisan. In particular, they recommend:

1)    bring a camera

2)    be observant

3)    document irregularities

4)    notify election officials on site (even if they’re the offender)

5)    report. You can call 1-888-DEM-VOTE and/or follow the US Department of Justice recommendation that you immediately call your local FBI. Look that number up and carry it with you to the polls.

And remember, some voter suppression techniques are legal but that does not mean they should be ignored. We can still act to reduce their impact by our own behavior and by shining light into the darker corners of elections.

– Iron Filing