Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dos and Don'ts at the polls

Next week, most of you will cast your ballot on election day. Here are some dos and don'ts for you on that day.

First, don't wear your Obama-Biden or McCain-Palin t-shirt or any other political t-shirt to the polls. Don't wear a campaign button or sport a political tattoo. That is considered campaigning, and that can not be done at the ballot box.

Second, do bring one of three forms of identification: a valid South Carolina Driver's License, a valid South Carolina Identification card, or a valid voter registration card.

Third, don't show up at the polls trying to vote for someone else. If your Uncle Joe or Aunt Mary is in the hospital and told you to go vote for them and gave you a registration card, too bad. You can not caste a vote for someone else. If you want to make sure your Uncle Joe's voice is heard at the polls, have him get an absentee ballot and send it in by next Monday.

Fourth, do be cordial and patient with the poll managers. The people who work as poll managers do a thankless job making sure the rules are enforced. They are people who you might run into at work, the high school football game, church, or the grocery store. Do not embarrass yourself by showing out if your vote is challenged. If it is challenged, simply caste the provisional ballot and contact your party or candidate so they can make your case when the local election commission decides on whether or not to accept your ballot.

Fifth, do not let yourself be tricked, intimidated or harassed. You do not have to talk to anyone at a polling place except for a poll manager. They will be easily identified. If someone approaches you in line and wants your personal information, don't give them anything. You don't have to. If you feel intimidated by anyone in line, contact law enforcement or the poll managers. For examples, if some guy comes up and tells you "you better vote for Obama because I know where you live," or " you better vote for McCain because I know who you work for," do not be intimidated. Ignore them, caste your ballot and let the poll managers know what is going on in line. Further, if someone comes up to you and says that you can vote the next day, ignore them. You can't.

Sixth, do be aware of what is going on. If you see things that just seem wrong, like a poll manager urging people who to vote for or other obvious rule breaking, step up for democracy and contact the local election commission with your complaint. You have that right. Do not let some campaign's attorney or poll watcher or even a poll manager deter you from properly and calmly issuing a complaint.

Seventh, do go vote.

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