Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Did Republicans screw with my absentee ballot?

On last Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher, guest Tim Robbins warned viewers that Republicans like to fuck with many voters' access to the polls. They've done it in the past, and they will probably do it again this time. Starting at :52 seconds, he explains it clearly.

I registered to vote as a Democrat in Suffolk County in early September. According to Wikipedia, Suffolk County has long been a Republican bastion in New York. I immediately requested an absentee ballot, since I'd be in Florida during the Presidential elections. It never arrived. So I went online, printed out another absentee ballot request form, and yet again mailed it -- two or three weeks ago. I still haven't received it.

Just now, I called the Suffolk County Board of Elections and asked where the hell my ballot is. The guy claims it was sent out "yesterday." He claims they were a "couple days behind" in mailing them out because they had to process 40,000 absentee ballot requests. Two or three weeks behind is not a couple of days behind, and I told him that. I was pissed.

I asked, "What if it doesn't arrive in time for me to mail it back to you?" (my ballot has to be postmarked by Monday). He said he didn't know! I said, "Well, give me to someone who does," and I got transferred a bunch of times. The end answer was that I'm screwed.

After not taking no for an answer, I was finally told that if I don't receive my ballot by Friday, they could FedEx it so I'd have it by Monday. This was not an easy feat to get a definitive "Yes we will help you vote by any means necessary." I made sure to get the guy's name and his direct phone line, just in case.

The committee which reformed the voting laws during the Bush era (the two big supporters of which are now serving time in prison) made the smallest, most insignificant details grounds for not allowing voters to cast their ballots. If you registered to vote as "Bill," but your license says "William," you're out of luck. And they often require that you need a valid driver's license. What if you don't have a license? Maher brought up a good point that one out of five African Americans don't have a license.

This is an excerpt from a 2001 essay Robbins wrote for The Nation:
Aside from the obvious voter fraud in Florida, a brief spotlight was focused on the racist practices that have accompanied elections for years. Whether it's the roadblocks outside polling places in African-American voting districts or the disappearance of African-American names from voting registers, the ineffective and antiquated voting machines in low-income voting districts or the exposure of the Supreme Court as a partisan political institution, the picture is the same. Powerful people in the American ruling class fear democracy.

If you've experienced what happened to me, or any seemingly shady bullshit when it comes to voting, I suggest you follow Tim Robbins advice, which is to DOCUMENT VIA VIDEOTAPE any voter fraud you witness on Tuesday, and upload the video onto YouTube. Obama supposedly has it in the bag by ten points, but don't forgo voting. The Republicans stopped at nothing to steal the election from Gore, and they'll do it again if necessary. Be careful. Vote.

1 comment:

Tiger said...

Thank you. You reminded me I didn't get my district voting card so i called the Election Board and found out that you get different stories when you speak to different people. First guy said I was purged (despite the fact i have been registered and voted at the same address for the past 16 years). When the number he forwarded me to did not work out, I called back and was told I never got purged and they provided me with my district number so I can get in and out in a timely manner.