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November 4, 2008

Today Is The Day. Now Is The Time.

The day has finally arrived for all Americans to step up to the plate and swing for history. We've been registered to vote in record numbers this year and there is a giddy fever of enthusiasm and hope that I, personally, haven't felt in years. Jesus, it is long overdue.

I don't think for a minute that today's election will go smoothly or easily. Considering the long lines encountered in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and even Georgia for early voting, we should expect the system to be overwhelmed with record turnout. Already Colorado's Attorney General has stated there there is no way the state can finish counting its absentee and early ballots before Wednesday at the earliest. There is a distinct possibility that we will go to bed tonight night not yet knowing who will be the next President of the United States.

What is for certain, however, is that today women are able to vote. African-Americans are able to vote. No one will have to pay taxes to qualify to vote. You will not have to own land to cast your ballot. You will not be prohibited to vote because of advanced age. Come January, if American history serves us well, there will be a peaceful, bloodless transfer of power. We take this for granted, but need only look beyond our door to see that this tradition is exceptional.

If you haven't already, I just want to encourage you to get up and exercise your precious right to vote, even if your preferred presidential candidate is not mine. We've worked very hard to get to this place in time and we should be very proud of our process. Is it flawed? You betcha! But every single American individual has a role to play, in making history and shaping the course to come. Is it a rough road? Yes. But not only can we survive as a nation, we can flourish with compassion and pride. Yes. We. Can.

Before leaving for your polling place, please review your rights. People for the American Way has compiled a state by state list of local election laws (for instance, what forms of ID may be required). Take a few minutes to check out the voting information for your state HERE!

Please do not hesitate to speak up at your polling place if you encounter any irregularities. If you feel as if you have been unfairly treated at the polls or if the conditions are untenable, please feel free to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE and report your concerns.

Please make sure you are at the correct voting location by checking with your state's Division of Elections website, or check here for a state by state directory of election contacts. If you are asked to cast a provisional ballot instead of an official ballot, please resist and question the authorities at hand till you are satisfied you are at the correct polling place (they will not tell you where you should be voting, only that you are not on their voter roll and if you fill out a provisional ballot outside your registered precinct, it will NOT COUNT). In 2004, having recently moved to a new Boulder neighborhood, I accidentally waited in line for three hours at an elementary school that had a very similar name to my newly registered precinct voting location. They would not give me an official ballot because I was, of course, not on their voting roll, but they did give me a provisional ballot, something I knew absolutely nothing about. First, they assured me that it would count once they figured out where the error was. Then, they pressured me to fill it out because I was holding up the line (there were now six or seven of us with provisional ballots in hand). Three people who could not be found on the voter roll gave up and filled out their provisional ballots, not wanting to be considered a pain in the ass and not wanting to wait to see what the problem was. The rest of us held firm. When they threatened us that if we spent anymore time on the issue, we would be considered a "menace" (and this was in uber-liberal Boulder), a very kind gentleman behind me in line suggested that I look at the precinct map to make sure I was at the correct voting location. Sure enough, my address put me at an entirely different precinct and I was at the wrong voting location. That was the case with the other folks with provisional ballots as well. We dispersed to our other voting locations and once I was at the correct elementary school, there was a ballot waiting for me. In a single moment, my vote could have been wasted. You have a right to vote and a right for it to be counted.

Please bring water and a snack with you when you go to vote. If the lines are long, you do not want to run the risk of dehydrating or low blood sugar. If you have a folding lawn chair, do bring that as well (even if you don't need it, there may be an elderly person who may). Bring a book. Bring knitting. Bring a movie on your iPod. Bring five friends with you. Bring your good humor.

Most of all, bring patience and pride in knowing that you are participating in making the United States the country that it is.

This is a tweak/re-post of yesterday's Flutter Effect election coverage.

Posted by bethamsel at November 4, 2008 8:27 AM

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