Voter registration has swelled this campaign season, and keeping voters registered may turn out to be the biggest fight the Democrats have to win this November. While the Obama campaign challenges election schemes like that in Michigan, where voters who have lost their homes to foreclosure are being purged from the registration rolls, technical issues like voter database glitches are feared to disenfranchise thousands. With dirty politics that affected the Florida vote in 2000, like purging people from the registered voter list who matched only 80-90% of the information recorded for a convicted felon, many people were turned away from the polls who were legitimately registered in their districts. These tactics have been shown to disproportionately affect minority voters, and in the Florida case, black Americans accounted for 88% of those removed from the rolls even though they only comprise 11% of all voters in the state.
WHAT CAN I DO?
- Register to vote.
If you live in the United States, you can download the form necessary to get yourself registered in your state, report a change of name or address, and report affiliation with a political party. It also includes information about where to send your completed registration on a state by state basis. You can download the form in Spanish as well.
If you are away from home (college students!) or otherwise can’t get to the polls on election day, check out Go Vote Absentee to request an absentee ballot.
- Get educated about your rights.
If you have moved since you last registered, if you’ve lost your home to foreclosure, if you’re unsure about any of your rights as a voter, the United States Election Assistance Commission has a comprehensive website explaining how to rectify any issues or concerns you may have or can at least point you where to look next.
You can also find out more about your rights as a college student and a voter at the Student Voting Rights site provided by the NYU Brennan Center for Justice.
If you are a convicted felon living in Maine, Vermont, Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Massachusetts, you still have the right to vote with some restrictions. Restrictions vary from state to state.
- Overseas and Military voters have slightly different rules for their absentee ballots. If you are overseas or in the military, you can check out the official rules and regulations on this site or get a streamlined version at the Overseas Vote Foundation or Vote From Abroad.
WHAT IF I’M ALREADY REGISTERED?
- Well, I think I’m registered…
Go to Vote For Change and enter basic information on your name and location. The bot will tell you whether you are registered to vote. Eventually the website will also provide voting locations.
- Get involved.
If you aren’t already, get involved with the campaign of your choice or volunteer to work at the polls on election day. Sign up with your county election office, get trained and be prepared for a long but fulfilling day. Responsibilities vary from county to county, but many counties are always looking for volunteers.
I’M TOO BUSY TO VOLUNTEER
- Me too, but I’m not too busy for some armchair activism.
FEMINISTE is soliciting stories about your voting experiences to help encourage registered and unregistered voters to vote.
Do you have a story about working a registration drive? About working the polls? Do you live in a split-ticket household? What kinds of traditions or stories does your family have when it comes to voting in an election? Do you have additional ideas on how to participate in the election during the final weeks? How is the subtext of race and gender this election season going to affect how you, your friends, and family members, are going to vote — or is it?
Send your stories to fauxrealtho at gmail dot com with “VOTE” in the title, including your name and a link to your website, and we will publish your stories as they come in along with additional information about voting registration, disenfranchisement, and election news. Send us what you’ve got.
Meanwhile, you still have at least through September and early October to get registered to vote in the 2008 presidential election. Some states allow voters to register through the end of October. You can find out your state’s deadline here.