Protecting your Vote
Practical Steps Voters Can Take
Electronic poll book failures, machine breakdowns, preferences recorded wrong, being told you're not registered, or that you're at the wrong polling place though you've checked it—these all can be glitches, but they can all be voter suppression tactics, too.
Work on the MICRO level (your own registration) and the MACRO level (help others protect theirs) simultaneously.
- Do you know what ID you need? If not go to 411vote.org.
- Do you need ID? Contact your League of Women Voters, or Spreadthevote.org.
- Do you know how you vote? Go to 411vote.org to learn how, and select your state and "voting machines" under the topic. If it's not paper, read on.
- Use The Verifier tool at verifiedvoting.org. Learn what machines you will be voting on.
- Are you still registered to vote? To ensure you weren't purged, go to your Secretary of State's website and check your registration.
- If you're registered, is the information correct? If not, update it.
- Have you taken a screenshot? If not, do so, and keep checking your registration.
- Have you looked at your sample ballot? Print it out, check that all the races are correct, and if they are, fill it out.
- Have you checked the dates, and hours, of early- and election-day voting? Put them in your calendar. Set reminders.
- Is there is a chance you'll be traveling? Check the deadline to request an absentee ballot. Put it in your calendar.
- Does your state law require employers to give you time off to vote?
- Has your polling place changed? Look up where it is., before election day.
- Have you made a screenshot of your registration? Make one just before you vote, and bring it with you.
- Do you have a hotline in your pocket?
- English: Election Protection (866) OUR-VOTE.
- Spanish (en Español) 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA
- Arabic 1-844-418-1682
- 1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)
- Look up your precinct and polling place on your Secretary of State's website. Post the lookup tool on social media.
- Double check the above information by calling your County Board of Elections. Have it changed though you didn't move?
- Locate your polling place, and go there. Is it safe and accessible? Does it have a sidewalk?
And at the same time...The Macro
- Post/Tweet the whole thing you do, above.
- Get vocal about using PAPER BALLOTS.
- Call your Congressional representatives and candidates and ask if they support the PAVE Act. If they don't, demand to know why.
- If your state doesn't vote all-paper ballots, call your State Senator and State Rep and tell them that you want them to support voting on paper ballots. And ask your friends to do the same.
- Call your Secretary of State and ask why you don't vote on paper ballots.
- To have a bigger impact, read our Election Security Advocacy Page.
- Volunteer as a Poll Monitor.
What to Bring When You Vote
- A FRIEND or family member. You may need a witness.
- A printout of your registration —check it just before you vote and screenshot it.
- ID/License, and a utility bill, whether or not your state requires them. (if there's a problem, you'll need them to vote provisionally.)
- A printout of your district-specific Sample Ballot, filled out.
- If possible, a phone with photo or video recording capacity. Photo evidence of problems can become critical proof.
- Provisions, in case you face a long line: water, snacks, reading materials, an umbrella, and a fold-down stool.
- The phone number of the Election Protections Hotline. It's 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
When You Vote
- Vote with a friend or family member.
- Vote as early as you can. If there is a problem, this gives you time to correct it.
- Smile at your poll workers, and ask them how it's going. If things get complicated, you want them on your side.
- Show your recent registration screenshot printout if you're told at the polls that you aren't registered.
- Demand a provisional ballot if poll workers insist you're not registered.
- Be ready to record complications, especially, if an official refuses to give you a provisional ballot.
- Compare your sample and actual ballots to make sure they match. If they don't, show officials your sample ballot
and ask them to give you the correct ballot, so you can vote for the correct races.
- If you vote on a machine that spits out you a paper record, check your preferences against your sample ballot.
- Take photos of any problems, for example, a difference between your sample ballot and the paper tape.
- Report problems to the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
After You Vote
- Plan to watch the votes come in, and make a new file on your desktop, "Election Results".
- Watch, and repeatedly refresh, the result on your Secretary of State or County websites.
- Take screenshots throughout the night and save them as you go, under names include the time stamp. For example: "CountyResults.9.32.PM."
- If your phone's camera time stamps your photos, you can photograph your screen to achieve the same thing.
- If you suspect malfeasance, call the Election Protection hotline, and the state headquarters of your League of Women Voters.
FOR VOTERS WHO MUST VOTE ON TOUCHSCREENS
Touchscreen machines can wreak havoc. In addition to being maliciously programmed to flip votes, they're prone to failure, and can issue paper printouts that are too difficult to verify and audit—if, that is, paper printouts are provided at all. Call your County Election Board and ask whether all, or most voters, will be expected to use a touchscreen voting machine or touchscreen ballot marker at the polls. If so:
TRY TO AVOID THEM.
Ask if your polling place will let you to mark your ballot by hand. (Even touchscreen counties sometimes allow this on request.)
- If not, call your Town Clerk, or check THIS TOOL to see if you can vote by mail or absentee.
- If so, call your Board of Elections, or go on your Secretary of State's website, and look up the deadline to apply.
- Post on Social Media that this is what you're doing, and, tell other local voters to do the same.
- Write a letter to the editor, talking about why your area needs to return to paper ballots. Sample at lifteveryvote.net.
IF YOU CAN'T AVOID THEM:
- Ask when early voting is available. Voting early ensures that if a machine fails, you'll have another chance to vote.
- Find your Sample Ballot on your Secretary of State's website.
- Print it, and fill it out, so that you can use it to compare your choices to any receipt or printout.
- Bring it to the polls, and use it to fill out your real ballot.
- Make sure you're seeing all the candidates. If you aren't, hit the “MORE” button. Some touchscreens, like the new ES&S ExpressVote, reportedly make you punch the “more” button to see all the candidates.
- Once you've voted, check the printout of your vote in its entirety. Studies show voters rarely check the paper trail. Take the time to compare all selections, including referendums and down ballot races, against your cheat sheet.
IF YOUR PAPER TRAIL DOESN'T MATCH YOUR SELECTION:
- Take photos if possible, of your sample ballot next to the printout. Hard evidence is invaluable.
- Alert poll workers, and others on the line, identifying the specific machine that's problematic.
- Get out your phone, and start recording.
- Demand that the machine be taken out of service.
- Insist that they let you use another machine, or mark a ballot by hand.
- Post the problem on social media
- Call your Election Protection Hotline.
Links to Election Security Resources
- Many of the suggestions came from THIS ARTICLE BY JENNY COHN., an election integrity advocate on Twitter, at @jennycohn1
- https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/2085885331442946/ [short video by election integrity advocate Lulu Friesdat
- 2014 handout of election security tips by by TheBradBlog (many of which I incorporated here): http://bradblog.com/?p=10915