Combat Vote Suppression

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The Nation

Combat Vote Suppression

This longest election campaign in American history, soon to be concluded, has seen a record number of new voters registered.

In Connecticut, more than 300,000 new voters have added their names to the rolls since January 1, and a higher percentage of registered voters are expected to participate in tomorrow's election than at any time since John F. Kennedy faced off with Richard Nixon in 1960.

In Delaware, 600,000 new voters signed up -- an "unprecedented" amount, according to Sussex County Department of Elections, Kenneth McDowell.

In California, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Friday that 17.3 million Californians are registered voters, almost 5 percent more than the 16.6 million registered for the last presidential election and 75 percent of the state's eligible voters -- a record for the state.

In fact, voter registration is up dramatically coast to coast. More than 500,000 new voters altogether have registered in the key battleground states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania since the 2004 election, public records show. Registration is also up in several closely watched states. Colorado and Minnesota have signed up more than 150,000 voters apiece since 2004. Virginia and Nevada have each registered more than 250,000 new voters since then. Nationwide, more than 3.6 million voters registered in the first three months of 2008, according to an Associated Press survey. In total, approximately 153.1 million Americans are now registered to vote (a record 73.5 percent of citizens 18 or older.)

So with all these new voters on the scene, there may be some chaos at various polling places tomorrow even without the expected dirty tricks already cropping up in places like Virginia, Georgia and Ohio.

The good news is that there are numerous ways you can help ensure that every vote is counted. Here are a few:

Video Your Vote
Help document any problems that may arise -- long lines or broken voting machines, for example -- that present obstacles to citizens trying to vote.

Twitter Vote Report
Our friends at Campus Progress Action have partnered with Twitter and techPresident on the Twitter Vote Report election protection project. Individual voters can use their cell phones to report on their voting-day experiences - the good, bad, and ugly. How long is the wait in Cleveland? Are the new optical scan machines staying up and running in Palm Beach County? Is failure to bring ID to the polls thwarting first-time voters in Indianapolis? With Twitter Vote Report, we'll know the answers to those questions in real time from real people. Visit twittervotereport.com to learn how it works, how to get involved, and how to spread the word.

Election Protection Wiki
A new wiki tool hosted by the Center for Media and Democracy allows users to look up vote purgings and other challenges to voting rights on a state-by-state basis, helps investigate incidents of disenfranchisement and permits users to add comments.

GoVote.org
Have any questions about your polling place? govote.org tells you not only where your polling place is located but the hours that the polls are open and what documentation you need to bring with you that day. Google Maps also has a tool in conjunction with the League of Women Voters that retrieves a map of your polling place, prints directions, and has contact information for local election officials.

1-866-OUR-VOTE
Having problems or questions on Election Day? If so, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, a toll-free hotline with live people on the end of the line who are ready to answer your questions, record incidents of voter intimidation, and, if necessary, put you in immediate touch with election lawyers.

Peter Rothberg

Peter Rothberg writes the ActNow column for the The Nation. ActNow aims to put readers in touch with creative ways to register informed dissent. Whether it's a grassroots political campaign, a progressive film festival, an antiwar candidate, a street march, a Congressional bill needing popular support or a global petition, ActNow will highlight the outpouring of cultural, political and anti-corporate activism sweeping the planet.

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