Nicole In A Nutshell

October 29, 2008

Make it count!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Nicole @ 12:58 am

As a child, and then as a teen, I couldn’t wait to turn 18. Oh, it wasn’t because of the military eligibility or the right to destroy my lungs legally, it was because I wanted to vote. Yes, I was one step away from being the kid in “The Breakfast Club” who creates a fake ID so as to cast his ballot. When I finally got my chance, it was glorious. I felt like part of the process, and damn was I proud to be an American (yes, a REAL American – fuck you, Psycho Sarah!).

Fast forward to the 2004 election. After the massive debacle of 2000, I thought it prudent to do all that I could to fight back against the forces that had thrust upon us the disaster that was the first term of the Bush presidency. As such, I volunteered for Voter Protection in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, an area that had been significantly targeted by fraudsters in 2000. Of course, as I was going to be in beautiful Reading, PA on Election Day, I had to get an absentee ballot. That’s where things went horribly, horribly wrong.

I took a train from the city to my suburban voting district and went to the Board of Elections to procure my ballot. I was told that as an “inactive” voter, I had been “purged” from the system. I wasn’t sure what was more shocking – the fact that they claimed I had been inactive (maybe they thought that my vote for Nader in 2000 meant I hadn’t voted at all) or the premise that one can be booted from the system despite having registered and having gone through all the proper channels. Aghast, I left the Board of Elections, mouth gaping, steam escaping from my ears, and likely looking like the female version of Bruce Banner as he transforms into the Incredible Hulk.

When I went into work the next day, my colleagues asked if I had voted. I told them the story, and they asked if I had filled out a provisional ballot. I said no, and that I had not been offered one. After some rather rudimentary research, I found that I was entitled to a provisional ballot at the very least, and that the Board had violated the law in not proferring one. Plans were then made for another schlep to the ‘burbs.

I went back that afternoon and demanded to speak with the person who was running the show. A bitchy blonde woman came to “help” me and I explained the situation. “Well, what do you want me to do about it,” she asked. I told her that I wanted the right to cast my vote, and she said I had no such right. I asked for a provisional ballot and she sneered. I asked why I had not been given one the previous day, and she had no response. I said, “Do you realize that you are in violation of federal law?” She said, “Yeah,” and literally THREW THE BALLOT IN MY FACE!!!

Needless to say, I was pissed. After exercising my freakin’ right, my next move was to contact my U.S. Representative. Her office was very helpful and an investigation was launched. The Board of Elections was informed that they had acted improperly and that they would need to follow procedure in the future.

As a former disenfranchised voter, I still find it bitterly ironic that I was going to protect other peoples’ rights, yet mine had been duly stomped upon. I raise the issue now, because this is still happening.

People, I implore you to be conscientious about this situation. The Bush administration has done whatever it could to erode them over these past 8 years, but you still have some rights, and they must be protected at all costs! Therefore, I hereby provide to you, courtesy of the Daily Kos, this handy-dandy guide to handling voting issues:

10 Commandments to help blunt efforts to steal or intimidate your vote.

Never allow intimidation!  Cast your ballot!

  1. Call and make sure your voter registration is in order TODAY.  Fix problems by the end of the week.  Especially in swing states and states where GOP leadership has passed new ID laws.  Help the elderly in your area verify their rights to vote and help them get to the polls.
  1. Bring copies of your birth certificate, SSI card, drivers license, and utility bill envelopes addressed to you at your address.  Also, bring someone who can vouch for who you are.
  1. Make sure your Drivers License has your voting address on it.  Pay the fee and get it updated BEFORE NOVEMBER 4th.  This may not be necessary; however, it is becoming more important these days.
  1. Verify the location of your voting booth.  Make sure you know of any last minute switch-a-roos.
  1. Students – Vote Early!  Or get your stuff in order so you can vote.  Go home if your college is giving you problems.  Voting this year is really important enough to even miss a couple of days of school if you have to.
  1. Report any/all efforts to intimidate voters in your area.
  1. Bring a note pad and pencil and write down the names and descriptions of anyone giving you a hard time.  Also, bring a camera or cell phone and take their pictures.  Heck, video tape the whole thing.
  1. Call your local TV stations if problems present themselves.  It’s amazing how people will back down if they think they will be on TV misbehaving.
  1. Look for legal representatives that should be on site to insure a fair election.  VOTE!
  1. NEVER BE RUDE OR ANGRY.  Be patient AND persistent.   Negative behavior will only harm all of us.  No matter how unfair and unjust your situation may become, win the hearts and minds of those who are giving you a hard time.  Invite them to walk in your shoes and ask them “If you were me right now, and your right to vote was being questioned, what would you do to fix the problem?”  Then ask them to help you fix your problem in that manner.  BE NICE!
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