What's this about two election days and other voter questions
Tuesday, 4 November 2008, is the last day to vote in this year’s general elections. Looking for where you vote? Try starting here at www.whatsdrivingyoucrazy.com. You’ll find detailed links for Northeast Texas, including the Fort Worth/Dallas area, as well as links for national and Texas sites with voter information.
In all cases, it is best to check out local information from local officials on where to vote and what is required.
As usual, there are many myths and malicious rumors circulating again this year. Let’s start with an oldie, but a goodie.
There is only one election day. Do not believe any flyer, email or anything that says one party votes on Tuesday and the other on Wednesday. It is a lie.
Jurisdictions differ on what kind of identification you are supposed to show. Sometimes, election judges, for whatever reason, exceed the law in requesting more information than is required. Take good ID with you just in case. Good ID can include your voter certificate, drivers license, state-issued ID card, US passport, birth certificate, picture ID from work, a bill or government mailing addressed to you at your address and even a photo ID for school or shopping. You should be prepared.
There’s been so much confusion about voting in this area that the Tarrant County Elections Department has put up a webpage that chases rumors. Here’s some examples:
I heard that absentee ballots aren’t counted unless a race is very close. Is that true?
That is not true. Every eligible ballot, whether cast in person or by mail, is tabulated and included in the official election results.
Is it true that voters who have unpaid traffic tickets can be arrested if they show up to vote?
This is not true. Section 276.005 of the Texas Election Code provides that a voter may not be arrested at a polling place or while going to or returning from a polling place except if the voter commits one of the following crimes on the day of voting: treason, any felony, or a breach of peace.
I’ve heard that I can’t wear a campaign t-shirt into a polling place and that if I do, I will be asked to leave.
Wearing campaign clothing, hats, pins, buttons, etc. inside a polling place or within 100 feet of an outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which a polling place is located is considered “electioneering” and is a violation of election laws (Texas Election Code Section 61.003). Persons wearing campaign materials into a polling place are generally asked to remove or cover their campaign materials or to turn their shirt inside-out.
I received an e-mail suggesting that I “Video My Vote”. Can I take a camera into the polling place to record my voting experience?
Section 63.013 of the Texas Election Code provides that a person may not use any mechanical or electronic means of recording images or sound within 100 feet of a voting station. In addition, this section also provides that a person may not use a wireless communication device within 100 feet of a voting station.
Let me emphasize here that all the previous responses are based on Texas law. The situation could be different in your state. So, it’s best to check to see if there is a local website with voting information.
There is a lot of confusion over voting a straight ticket on electronic machines. If you vote a straight ticket, the vote for the presidential candidate is entered. If you vote a straight ticket and then go and mark the presidential candidate of your choice, chances are you are deleting your vote for president.
If you are voting on an electronic voting machine, there should be some way for you to review your final vote before you press the final button to cast your vote.
If you don’t understand, ask a poll worker. They can go over the procedure with you . They are not supposed to tell you how to vote, but they can tell you how to go about it.
- If this is your first time to vote, ask questions and make sure you understand the procedure.
- If you do not understand the equipment, ask questions until you do. You don’t want to throw away your vote through a technical glitch.
- Be prepared for long lines and be patient. As long as you are in line before the polls close, you are allowed to vote.
- Don’t show up wearing your campaign gear. Leave it in the car and put it on after your vote. You could be sent to the end of the line.
- If you see something wrong, don’t play cop, tell the election officials. If you don’t think they handle it correctly, report it to the government agency responsible for the election.
Most of all, get out and exercise your right to vote. This is a groundbreaking election no matter who wins. You don’t want to be telling your grandkids you stayed home.