Back when Karl Rove was still dreaming of a permanent Republican majority, election 08 was shaping up to be the most extensive laboratory to date for his bag of dirty tricks.
In this week’s issue of The Nation Andrew Gumbel explains that the plan was to use every legislative and executive lever available to the GOP to suppress the votes of minorities, students, the poor, the transient and the elderly. And though Rove is out of politics and currently busy working the media green rooms, Gumbel warns that many pieces of his plan are still in place and could pose a threat on November 4 — or beforehand. As Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote in a recent post, “alarming reports of dysfunctional voter registration, purges of the rolls, and possible voter suppression are surfacing weekly, if not daily.”
One of the big unanswered questions about the 2008 election, according to elections expert Steve Rosenfeld writing at Alternet, is will the GOP try to contest the credentials of new voters as they show up at polling places. A typical challenger would claim that a voter lives at a different address than what is in their voter registration record. The challenged voter then must produce an ID or a utility bill proving otherwise to vote. This tactic not only delays the process, but deters others in line, frustrated by long waits, from voting.
So, what to do to safeguard the vote?
Our friends at Yes magazine have produced a simple 12-step voter guide culled from the recommendations of leading voting integrity advocates that can help ensure that the election system functions properly this year. It includes moves you can take before the election, on election day and after the voting is finished — everything from reconfirming your registration and voting early to verifying your vote, watchdogging election officials and even establishing your own poll-watching group.
Rosenfeld advises calling your local election office now to ensure that your registration is current. If your information is correct and you have documentation, you cannot be successfully challenged and you will vote. If a problem arises while voting, you should call the nation’s largest election protection hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE, which will put you in immediate touch with an election lawyer.