For those of you who don’t know, Dixville Notch is a tiny town in New Hampshire which is famous for opening its polls at midnight EST, making their polls the first to open (and close, the town is small enough that voting does not take long). Of the 21 registered voters in town, 16 voted for Obama. Now, the Dixville Notch thing is maybe a little gimmicky, but I think it’s pretty neat, and a great start to what is probably going to be a very interesting 24 hours. Inidentally, the town usually goes Republican…
…is dead. So sad that Barack Obama’s grandmother couldn’t make it to election day. My condolences to Mr. Obama and his family on their loss.
If you spot irregularities at the polls (or experience them), you need to report them. There are lots of ways to report irregularities, and you may want to report irregularities to multiple authorities. The more methods you use, the more attention will be paid to your complaint. Please, if you spot something fishy, report irregularities, and encourage voters who have also had bad experiences to do the same.
Any situation in which someone is denied the right to vote is an irregularity. Being asked to cast a provisional ballot can be an irregularity. Electioneering is an irregularity. If poll workers try to pressure you, ask how you voted, or interfere with the privacy of your vote, this is an irregularity.
So, who can you report irregularities to, and how?
The supervisor at the polls
Every polling place has a supervisor. If you experience/witness an irregularity, that person is the first person you should be talking to. When you file your complaint, note the supervisor’s name, the time, and the polling place location. You’re going to use that information later. Try to be clear about the nature of the problem, and indicate that you would like to see a resolution. Get a paper trail. If you cast a provisional ballot, hang on to that receipt. Get as much documentation as possible. (Video the Vote and Video Your Vote are encouraging people to make videos, but if you lack a video camera, you can take photos, too, or ask another voter to document for you.)
If you are voting in a swing state, there’s a very good chance that there will be a legal observer at your polling place. Legal observers usually wear distinguishing insignia like bright vests or hats. If there’s a legal observer present, ask him or her to witness while you file a complaint with the supervisor, and make a complaint directly to the legal observer as well.
The registrar of voters/county clerk
You should also contact your registrar of voters/county clerk about polling irregularities. The registrar/clerk is usually listed in the phone book, or you can search for your county and “county clerk” or “registrar of voters,” and the information you need should come up. If you have documentation, make copies and send a copy to the registrar/clerk, so that they have something to work with.
Your political party
If you are registered with a political party, inform them about election irregularities. You can talk to a local office, or contact the national office directly. Again, send them copies of your documentation. (Democrats: 1.866.DEM.VOTE. Republicans: 1.202.863.8600.)
Your state’s voter information hotline
New Hampshire: 1.603.271.3242
New Jersey: 1.877.658.6837
New Mexico: 1.800.477.3632
New York: 1.800.367.8683
North Carolina: 1.877.522.4723
North Dakota: 1.800.366.6888
Rhode Island: 1.401.222.2345
South Carolina: 1.803.734.9060
South Dakota: 1.605.773.3537
Washington, DC: 1.866.DC.VOTES
West Virginia: 1.866.SOS.VOTE
A non-partisan voter protection organization
1.866.OUR.VOTE is Election Protection, a great organization. 1.800.792.VOTE is the ACLU/League of Women Voters, 1.800.966.5946 is the Asian-American Legal Defense and Information Fund. 1.888.SAV.VOTE and 1.888.VOTE.TIP are two additional numbers you can use.
Información en Español: 1.88.VE.Y.VOTA
There’s also some great information on voter supression over at the Voter Suppression Wiki. Go check it out. You can find listings of voter suppression tactics, ways to report voter suppression, and ways to support new voters/voters of color.
Got robocalls? Live in California? Report them here. Robocalling is illegal in California, although thus far, the PUC has been slow to act on the deluge of illegal calls. Mainly, that’s because people get pissed, but they don’t know how to report them. Let the PUC know that you’re tired of stupid robocalls! (I got four on Saturday, only one of which deigned to provide me with the originating number so that I could report it.)
Do you live in a swing state? Do you (or someone you know) have uncertainties about the rules at the polls? The Obama campaign has kindly pulled together a set of state by state guidelines detailing acceptable identification, polling station hours, and other goodies.
Holy moly! A mercenary company offered to “detain troublemakers” at the polls in Oregon! (I thought Oregon was vote by mail only?)
Obama has issued a statement opposing Proposition 8 (in response to a flier campaign which blatantly misrepresented him). Still, nice to hear that he finally came out (ha ha) against hate. 48 hours before the election, of course, but still.
Thanks to the eight people (!) who emailed me this story about disparities in health insurance costs between men and women over the weekend. The short version: if you have a vagina, you will pay more for health insurance. Even if maternity care is excluded from your policy.
The Huffington Post has a whole Big News page just for stories about voting problems!
LA CityBeat has a good question: who wants to be President of Hell?
Here’s Barack Obama appearing on the Daily Show to answer that question (among others).
Michael Myers Is So Goddamned Clever is my NaBloPoMo featured blog of the day; go check it out!
This trilogy is packaged in a single book, so I kind of spaced on reviewing them separately. My bad. Anyway, Berlin Noir consists of three novels, March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem, all of which deal with World War Two Germany, Nazism, and collective social responsibility (and guilt).
For some reason, I can remember exactly where I was when I first read this book, which doesn’t happen very often. I was on a bus from New York City to Vermont on my way to college, and I remember that the bus driver happened to live in the same town my college was in, so she gave me a ride from the bus depot to my dorm, which was very sweet. Alas, I have forgotten her name, but her act of kindness lives on.
At any rate, March Violets takes place before the war, and introduces us to Bernie Gunther, an ex-policeman working as a private detective. He’s plunged into a search for a missing necklace during the Olympiad, watching the German government slowly crack down on Jewish people, and navigating what turns out to be a complex web of conspiracy. The “March Violets” are people who joined the Nazi Party early, trying to get a leg up with their enthusiasm, and Gunther appears to be in a growing state of disgust with what’s going on.
In A Pale Criminal, he’s tapped to solve a series of brutal murders which turn out to be a conspiracy to incite hatred against the Jews, and he’s brought back into the police force, setting him up for the events of the war. All sorts of tidbits about life in Berlin during this period are dropped, including the information that Nazis frowned on psychoanalysis.
We meet Gunther again in 1947, living in Occupied Berlin and struggling to make a living. He’s asked to assist an old acquaintance who is on trial for murder in Vienna, and, of couse, nothing is what it seems in the tangled plot he’s dragged into. Nazis who escaped justice, Russian spies masquerading as American spies, and, of course, a girl. (Two, actually. Well, three, counting his wife.)
It’s certainly an interesting trilogy, and a great take on the classic noir detective novel. Germany in the 1930s-1940s was a pretty noir place, so why not set a few novels there?
Berlin Noir: March Biolets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem, by Philip Kerr. Published 1989/1990/1991, 835 pages. Fiction.