PEOPLE FOR BLOG

Problems at the Polls? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

There are still several hours left to cast a ballot, even on the East Coast, where polls don't start closing till 6 p.m. (many states' polling places are open even later than that). So here's a quick reminder that if you run into problems while voting or have questions, call the nonpartisan Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

1-866-OUR-VOTE. Tell your friends! Tell your enemies! Tell people about whom you feel utterly indifferent!

The hotline has logged nearly 30,000 calls so far today. You can see -- and search! -- a database of the problems they've been reporting at their website, www.ourvotelive.org.

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Have You Voted?

In case you needed more reason to get out and vote, the interwebs are virtually flooded today with stories of people voting, and loving it.

In New York

Even more people out there now. I walked across the street and down the one block to Stroud elementary, and turned the corner to see the line. I have voted in this neighborhood for the past seven years, and the longest line I've ever seen was one snaking out from the gymnasium where the booths are, to the front door, about 20 feet away.

This morning, the line stretched past that point, out through the cast iron gates, turned to the left, and went nearly halfway down the New York City block street to Washington Avenue. It was 6:00 a.m. There were hundreds of people already on line, waiting patiently to cast their vote.

In Chicago

The guy behind me, in the line, was telling another voter that he hadn't voted or even registered to vote in 20 years. He had been moving around a lot and didn't have the time to register or give much thought to elections. He had recently moved from Louisiana to Texas, but this time he registered to vote. He registered twice to make sure that he'll get his card on time. I turned back and smiled at him when he said that. He was in his late fifties and looked excited to be there.

In DC

My precinct (68) has 1,740 registered voters, 814 of which turned out for the presidential primary. Voting at the precinct could be done by computer or paper ballot, and there were two paper ballot counting machines. The one I slipped my ballot into had already counted nearly 400 others, suggesting that the primary numbers may already have been topped before noon. My precinct may see something like 70% turnout on the day. Absolutely remarkable.

Lots of smiles all around.

In Maine

I popped over to the polling station in Rockland, and at 8:10 this morning there were about 40 people in line:

I ran into Rep. Ed Mazurek on the way out, and learned that over 1,400 absentee ballots had been cast in Rockland alone.

In Ohio

I waited in line for three hours to vote the other day. What amazed me was all the different people out there voting. There was this ridiculous line and a single mother was in front of me, she was trying to feed her child in her arms and scooted the baby carrier on the ground with her foot. I saw men and women in uniform, I saw elderly in wheelchairs, elderly standing in the line wheeling oxygen tanks along with them. When I got up to the poll worker who printed off my ballot for me, I asked her if it was like this every day. She said for the past week or so it had been, averaging thirty thousand people a day coming in to vote early. Then I read in the paper this morning about how Ohio is expecting an 80% voter turnout. It is absolutely amazing

In Seattle

6:45 am at Northgate - line going out the door already. 7:05 in the voting room - all booths full, lines for booths three people deep. Never thought I’d want to take a picture of me and a ballot before. I wish I had volunteered to work at a polling place, I want to be around that kind of vibe all day long!

And there are more. If you have a voting story you'd like to share, you can e-mail blogtalk@pfaw.org.

And, of course, if you have any trouble voting, you should be sure to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

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On Exit Polls

If you're anything like me, you're counting down the minutes until the polls close and we can finally see how this election will turn out.

For people like us, Nate Silver at 538 has a cogent explanation of why one should ignore the allure of exit polls and wait for the real data to come in.

Silver has shown himself to be one of the sharpest statisticians in the game, and I have no reason to doubt a word he says.  Still, if someone shows me exit poll data, will I really be able to ignore it?  Probably not.

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The New Poll Tax

On a special Sunday episode of her show last night, Rachel Maddow made the great point that long voting lines — which people have been facing these past few weeks when casting early ballots, and will likely face tomorrow — are, in effect, a new kind of poll tax.

Not everyone, she points out, can afford to take five or six or seven hours off from their job to wait in line to vote. Not everyone has an understanding boss. Not everyone has the physical stamina to wait for periods that long, either.

We must fix this.

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Pre-emptive Impeachment

In case you needed another reminder that the Right isn't going to go away quietly, here's a web site demanding impeachment procedures against President Barack Obama. (Via Ben Smith.)

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A Long Night

If Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida go decisively for Obama, those of us on the east coast may have a pretty good idea of who the next president will be and still get a good night’s sleep.

But there’s at least one contest that’s certainly worth waiting up for – the fight to defeat Prop 8 in California, which would amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex couples from getting married. The polls don’t close until 11 p.m. eastern time, and the results probably won’t be known until well after that.

While you’re waiting up, you can use the time to read Andrew Sullivan’s short, lovely piece on his own nuptials and what they say about the institution of marriage in America.

The wedding occurred last August in Massachusetts in front of a small group of family and close friends. And in that group, I suddenly realized, it was the heterosexuals who knew what to do, who guided the gay couple and our friends into the rituals and rites of family. Ours was not, we realized, a different institution, after all, and we were not different kinds of people. In the doing of it, it was the same as my sister’s wedding and we were the same as my sister and brother-in-law. The strange, bewildering emotions of the moment, the cake and reception, the distracted children and weeping mothers, the morning’s butterflies and the night’s drunkenness: this was not a gay marriage; it was a marriage.

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Farewell, Studs

Last week, Studs Terkel, Pulitzer Prize winning author and activist, died at age 96. Pictured above with Barack Obama, Terkel spoke at People For’s Chicago Spirit of Liberty event in 2004, and his stories about the blacklist and Mahalia Jackson had people hanging on every word. His message to the crowd was to “say NO” to the official line, the Bush administration’s abuse of the Constitution, etc.

I have to think that he took some great pleasure in his final days from the coming end of the Bush administration and the big changes that appear to be headed our way.

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Time's A-Wastin': Get the Information You Need to Vote!

Unless you've been living under a rock these past two years, you know that Election Day is tomorrow.

So the question of today -- Election Day Eve -- is: where the heck do I vote, when do I go, and what do I need to bring with me?

You can find out the answers to those questions at GoVote.org, a one-stop shop for all that information.

For more detailed information on voter ID requirements and voting rights, check out our voter ID flyers and toolkits

And remember, if you run into problems at the polls or have questions, call the nonpartisan Election Protection Hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

After you're done voting, celebrate your participation in this grand civic ritual with a free scoop at Ben and Jerry's between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Huzzah for democracy -- and free dessert!

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People In The Middle

The People For Voters Alliance recently released an exciting set of online-only videos made by Academy Award winning director Errol Morris.

 

 

Click here to see the rest of the videos.

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The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long

The Austin-American Statesman has a story on a 109 year old woman – the daughter of a slave – who cast a vote for Senator Obama in this year’s election.

Jones' father herded sheep as a slave until he was 12, according to the family, and once he was freed, he was a farmer who raised cows, hogs and turkeys on land he owned. Her mother was born right after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Joyce Jones said. The family owned more than 100 acres of land in Cedar Creek at one point, she said.

Amanda Jones' father urged her to exercise her right to vote, despite discriminatory practices at the polls and poll taxes meant to keep black and poor people from voting. Those practices were outlawed for federal elections with the 24th Amendment in 1964, but not for state and local races in Texas until 1966.

Amanda Jones says she cast her first presidential vote for Franklin Roosevelt, but she doesn't recall which of his four terms that was. When she did vote, she paid a poll tax, her daughters said. That she is able, for the first time, to vote for a black presidential nominee for free fills her with joy, Jones said.

Something to think about if you’re stuck in a long line on Election Day.

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Trouble Keeping Track of Ballot Initiatives?

Having trouble keeping your propositions straight? Ballotpedia to the rescue! 

The collaborative site is like Wikipedia for local propositions and initiatives, helping citizens of states with lots (and lots) of such measures up for consideration to learn about and keep track of them all.

See this table of California ballot measures for a good example of Ballotpedia's usefulness. You can see what each proposition is about and find links to arguments for or against each one.

(via Lifehacker)

 

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Power to the Palm Cards

Last night, volunteers in DC gathered to do People For the American Way Foundation’s part in a project that will touch hundreds of thousands nationwide.

People For the American Way Foundation partnered with the SEIU to produce educational voter ID palm cards that inform voters of what they need when they show up to cast their ballots.  They are specific to the following states (based on where there are bad voter ID laws and where we expect to see aggressive voter suppression efforts): AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, IN, KS, MI, MO, NC, OH, PA, TX, and VA.

The volunteers were so excited to help distribute these materials. About 20 people crowded three different areas of People For the American Way Foundation’s DC office and didn’t rest until every activist who placed an order had what they needed. In this historic moment, their energy should give everyone hope for the future.

If you are not a palm card recipient, fear not – also available are voter ID toolkits and two-page flyers for the same states as we have palm cards for.  People For the American Way Foundation created these in collaboration with the NEA, SEIU, and other state and local partners.  We've been getting them to election officials and allies as a resource in training poll workers and people doing voter protection work.  These materials are available for you to download and print at http://site.pfaw.org/VoterID.

For more information about voting issues, please visit People For the American Way Foundation at http://www.pfaw.org or http://govote.org/. Report all voting incidents to 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

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Samuel L. Jackson Says: You Have the Right to Vote!

Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, and Rosie Perez are helping the Election Protection coalition get the word out about the Election Protection hotline — 1-866-OUR-VOTE — which voters can call through Election Day for help if they're facing voter suppression tactics or they just have questions about voting. People For the American Way Foundation is part of the EP coalition. The L.A. Times did a nice writeup of the campaign here.

Check out the PSAs below, and please spread the word about the hotline: again, the number is 1-866-OUR-VOTE.





 

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Democracy is about voting!

Just caught this item on politico.com about Republican Governor Crist of Florida extending early voting hours to the dismay of some of his fellow Republicans.  Dismay that more people will find it easier to vote in this historic election?  I think Governor Crist got it right when he said:  "This is not a political decision. This is a people decision."  You can read the full post by Ben Smith  here.

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Good News and Bad News on Hate Crime Rates

The FBI released official statistics yesterday for how many hate crimes were committed last year. The good news: there was a slight decline in the total number of hate crimes, mostly due to a drop in the number of hate crimes committed that involved bias on the basis of race and religion.

But the bad news is pretty troubling:

Incidents motivated by bias based on sexual orientation, however, were up 5.5 percent from 2006 and those targeting people because of their ethnicity or national origin rose 2.3 percent.

Read the Washington Post's story about the report here.

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