Election 2008: An online resource guide

How the Internet can help you vote with wikis, Twitter, YouTube and plain-vanilla Web sites.

Topics: 2008 Elections,

With voting less than a week away, I thought it might be useful to provide a quick list of online voting resources to help folks navigate this democra-sea. (OK, sorry, that pun was just too easy.) If there are other sites that people find useful, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Am I registered to vote?

Sadly, there isn’t an way to do this online yet. So the easiest way to determine if you’re registered to vote or not (if you don’t know already) is to call your local Registrar of Voters or Elections Office. The League of Women Voters has a straightforward Web site, which gives you the phone number of your local office when you type in your ZIP Code. Scroll down a bit to find the result.

Can I vote early?

Right below the result telling you by when you were supposed to register will be a link to your local office telling you if and where you can vote early in your area.

Do I need a photo I.D.?

The short version is: It depends. Best to check on the site of the National Conference of State Legislatures beforehand. Some states (Florida, Hawaii) request a photo I.D.; some require one (Alabama, Texas, Washington), and others don’t (California, Oregon, New York).

Should I bring anything else?

You may want to print out a Voter Empowerment Card from the ACLU for your region or state, which will tell you what your rights are and whom to contact if you have problems.

Where is my polling place?

Google has the easiest interface for figuring out one’s polling place I’ve seen so far. Simply type in your address to find where your polling place is. Oddly, if you live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (that’s the White House), you’re supposed to go vote at George Washington University, a few blocks away.

If I have problems voting, what should I do?

Again, it depends. ProtectMyVote.org says that if “election officials can’t find your name when you go to vote, ask for a ‘provisional’ ballot. The poll worker must give you one under the law. Voting by provisional ballot is not as good as voting absentee or on a machine, however.”



The Election Protection Wiki (“Citizens tracking voter suppression and election integrity”) provides a helpful video with instructions for reporting incidents of voter suppression, including misinformation (e.g., telling voters in Broward County, Fla., that they could vote by phone) and improper application of elections law (e.g., improper I.D. checks in Georgia).

If I have problems with an electronic voting machine, what should I do?

Inform a poll worker: Alert him or her of the problem and request a paper ballot. Some states will even let you vote on a paper ballot if you request one to begin with. Also, be sure to alert people waiting in line which machine you had a problem with.

How do I document issues that I have while voting?

Video the Vote — which has been around since 2006 — has become one of the preeminent sites for documenting the process of voting.

That said, some of the videos thus far don’t show anything that meaningful — like this shaky, windy video of somebody dropping off an absentee ballot off in a mailbox.

There’s a related channel, Video Your Vote, on YouTube.

Wired is also taking complaints and plotting them on a map, here.

How can I monitor what problems others are having?

Sites:

BradBlog.com — News on electronic voting machine mishaps

Wired Threat Level — Great reporting by Kim Zetter who has covered e-voting for many years

Black Box Voting

Twitter: votereport and 866OURVOTE

Phone: 1-866-MYVOTE-1, or CNN’s 1-877-GO-CNN-08. Others include 1-866-OUR-VOTE and 1-888-VOTE-TIP (for fraud reports).

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