If problems with voting machines and tricks by one party to keep people of another party from voting happen in every election, at what point do we stop calling them "irregularities?"
The list of problems is longer than my eight-year-old's Christmas list -- flyers trying to convince voters that Republicans vote on November 4 and Democrats on November 5, lawsuits being filed because there aren't enough polling places and voting machines to handle the increased turn-out, poll workers insisting that voters can't cast ballots unless they have a driver's license, precincts and counties defying orders to keep polling places open long enough so people can do their early voting on the way home from work, machines flipping votes from one party to another -- all on their own (I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't fix that vote for you).
And those are just the tip of the iceberg. I've been thinking about this a lot, and had a 'mad as hell' moment over at Twitter wondering, if we're a nation founded on and committed to the whole process of voting, why we do so little to protect everyone's right to do it?
Julie at MOMocrats, and some of her friends in Texas, have already experienced outright suppression tactics that could also compromise the information embedded on the magnetic strip on your driver's license:
It started ... with a seemingly innocuous twitter message I received from a friend, someone who is an attorney and politically active.
My friend wrote, "[I]s there a new law requiring scanning driver's license before you vote to make sure it matches voters id?"
That question indicated to me a potential problem on possibly five levels. If it was happening at the polls, it meant we had a situation that needed investigating. So I pulled on my Sherlock Holmes hat, and hit the phone, keyboard and pavement. I was surprised by what I found.
I found a potentially serious issue: possible voter suppression.
Myrna the Minx at Reno and Its Discontents is seeing it in her state, too. She says that things are looking a little bleak for some of the Republican candidates on the ballot there and reports that the GOP isn't taking it well:
The Democratic takeover of Washoe County has Republicans across the state reeling because it opens the door for Sen. Barack Obama to win Nevada’s five electoral votes on Nov. 4. ... GOP officials are considering a law suit to challenge the validity of new voter registrations that has turned a 17,500-voter registration advantage for Republicans in August 2007 into a 1,300-registration advantage for Democrats.
Myrna and some others aren't taking this sitting down. A bevy of great social networking minds have come up with two ways to try to put some confidence back into the system -- the Voter Suppression Wiki and the Tweet the Vote Report.
Both efforts will use social media to monitor and report on problems that come up for voters as they try to cast their ballots so something can actually be done to stop and fix problems as they come up. Or, at the very least, to put all the information out there about what's really happening with efforts to compromise the time we get every four years to have a say in who lives in the White House.
Taking back and protecting our own votes! I'm starting to feel a little better already!
Joanne Bamberger is a Contributing Editor for Politics & News. When she's not spreading her political wonkiness here, you can find her at her blog, PunditMom, as well as other blogs too numerous to mention!
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