13 October 2008

Protect the vote - Get involved!

I got this letter today from People for the American Way. It tells some of the things you can do as an individual in your precinct or neighborhood to protect the vote. If you live in one of the following states, it is absolutely critical that you do all you can to make certain that every eligible voter gets and opportunity to do so.

Dear Shane,

This could be a great election for American Democracy, with greater participation than we've seen perhaps ever. But we need to make sure that eligible voters who want to cast a ballot can do so.

Already, the Right has begun targeting states in which they will challenge the eligibility of voters who show up to the polls. Burdensome voter ID laws threaten to keep some voters from casting a regular ballot, and confusion caused by poorly trained state and county election staff has potentially led to tens of thousands of voters being wrongly purged from voter rolls and could result in more problems on Election Day.

Don't forget the last-minute attempts at voter intimidation and disinformation that we are almost sure to see as Election Day looms closer. The Right has already given us a sneak peak of how low they're willing to with reports last month that they would challenge the eligibility of Michigan voters who had their homes foreclosed on due to the housing crisis -- eligible voters who have been among the hardest hit by the struggling economy.

As part of our Election Protection efforts, People For the American Way Foundation wants to offer you a few ways you can help protect voters' rights and make the election run more smoothly.

1. VOTE EARLY if you can, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
Early voting has already started in many states. USA Today reported that up to a third of the electorate this year could cast their ballot before November 4. If you have the opportunity to vote early in your state, either in person or via mail (or a "no excuse" absentee ballot), People For the American Way Foundation urges you to take it. You can find out about early and absentee voting in your state at Vote411.org sponsored by the League of Women Voters Education Fund.

2. Help distribute voter education materials.
Palm cards: We're thrilled to announce that we've partnered with the SEIU to produce educational voter ID palm cards that inform voters of what they need when they show up to cast their ballots. They are state specific and are available for the following states (based on where there are bad voter ID laws and where we expect to see aggressive voter suppression efforts): AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, IN, KS, MI, MO, NC, OH, PA, TX and VA. If you live in one of these states, you can place an order here for palm cards to distribute to voters. (Remember, certain communities are particularly impacted by voter ID laws and voter suppression efforts, among them, the poor, minority voters, the elderly and students.)

Toolkits and flyers: Also available are voter ID toolkits and two-page flyers for the same states as we have palm cards for. People For the American Way Foundation has created these in collaboration with the NEA, SEIU and other state and local partners. We've been getting them to election officials and allies as a resource in training poll workers and people doing voter protection work. These materials are available for you to download and print here.

3. Contribute. There's only 26 days until Election Day and we need your help to make sure that every eligible voter is able to cast a vote that counts. That's 26 days for us to educate as many voters as we can. Please make a tax-deductible gift today to People For the American Way Foundation's nonpartisan Election Protection efforts, including the widespread distribution of the materials mentioned above.

Thank you for your ongoing support for fair elections and our work to protect the vote.

-- People For the American Way Foundation

People For the American Way Foundation is a founding member of the Election Protection Coalition, a coalition which includes civil rights groups such as the NAACP, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and many other national, state and local organizations.

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