My 150ms of fame on 538

I made a comment on that crackpipe of election information fivethirtyeight.com, related to voting and tangentially to e-deceptive campaign practices. My comment elicited favorable response. Believe it or not, there were suggestion that the comment should be its own thread. (No really, more than one. OK, two.) So here it is in all its glory:

@MsMike said...
> Erik: Thanks for the info on vote protection. Very helpful. I will be wathing for more.

OK, the report on deceptive electronic practices is here: http://votingintegrity.org/pdf/edeceptive_report.pdf Non electronic deceptive elections practices are still a danger, but are for the most part understood in the elections community. This report explores some deceptive practices specifically using electronic (primarily internet) means. Deceptive practices are attempts to affect voter registration, turnout, or vote choice by means of deception. I am an author on this report, which was produced by the National Committee for Voting Integrity a project of the highly esteemed Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The Voter Suppression Wiki has a list of list of election protection initiatives and a nice incident tracker page that lists prominent suppression incidents in an organized way.

There is also a Twitter VoteReport Project that looks promising.

The Verified Voting Foundation has a wealth of information on elections technology. This is not directly related to elections incidents, but may be helpful if you are trying to understand what kinds of known problems exist with different voting systems.

To reiterate my previous message, if you personally experience what you consider to be a voting incident you think might be worthy of follow-up or investigation, I recommend you call 866-our-vote or visit voteprotect.org.

In places that permit early voting, you can take stress off of what will in many places be an overburdened elections system by voting early.

Take a minute to visit your county's elections web site (assuming it has one), especially if you're new to the county, and most especially if you're new to the state. Rules vary. In some places, if you go to the wrong polling place, you can vote provisional, but in some places, it's basically impossible to vote in the wrong polling place. Worst of all are places where you can vote provisionally in the polling place, but unless you visit the county elections department in person before the elections results are finalized, your provisional ballot gets thrown out. It's important to know the rules.

If you are voting in person on election day, try to vote early if possible. Mid-day is often a quiet time. The county elections web site may have recommendations. Employers by law have to give you "adequate" time off from work to vote. (I'm not a lawyer and not an expert on this particular law, but if an employer will not reasonably accommodate your voting, then I recommend you call 866-our-vote right now.) Bring ID with you to the polling place regardless of the rules, just in case.

If you experience something bad (an "incident,") try to be a good reporter. Make notes in writing, if you can. Note the names of people you talk to and the time you talked to them. If it's relevant, note precinct numbers, brand names, model numbers and serial numbers. Generally and for very good reasons you can't take pictures inside a polling place, but if you have a camera or camera phone, take pictures outside the poling place and where permitted that might be helpful later. (Long lines, illegal behavior, etc.) If you don't have anything to write with, call yourself on your cell phone and leave yourself a voicemail message. This information can be valuable real time in getting injunctions, and better yet helping elections staff do a better job before an injunction even becomes necessary. Be firm but polite. More elections incidents are caused by bad information than by malice, and even in the case of malice, being hostile probably won't help you gather valuable information.

Do not, of course, forget to vote. If you fall ill or break your leg or something, you can still vote. Have a friend drive you. (Or if none of your friends have cars, contact your campaign to see if the GOTV people can help.) Many places offer curbside voting for handicapped voters, and it is now common to establish a temporary handicapped parking space in front of polling places. Rules vary, but I doubt many places would deny you assistance if you say you need it. I know a poll watcher in South Africa. One of the voters was an elderly, arthritic man who walked four hours one way on a very hot day to get to the polls. Then he waited in line several more hours. Then he walked home again. Oh, and he was carrying his handicapped wife on his back. If they voted, you can get your a** to the polls. Hear? Better yet, help somebody else who might not vote get to the polls.

Finally, as you enjoy the election night drama at an election party or quietly at home, give a moment's thanks to the election workers and election protection volunteers, whose work is not finished on election day. They will be toiling through the night and the next day. Many of them will not sleep for 30 or 40 hours straight, only to grab a brief rest and begin again. All for generally low pay or no pay at all, in the service of our precious democracy.

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