About a month and a half ago, I received a letter in the mail from the NJ Board of Elections. It was a note telling me that my name registered with the DMV was not in the voter rolls, and it urged me to register to vote. Enclosed was a pre-filled voter registration application and a return envelope.
I would have thought that this was wonderfully proactive from a usually bloated and unresponsive government, except for one thing: I am already registered to vote, and I have been for many years.
I looked more closely at the pre-filled application and saw that my maiden name was on there, as well as the driver’s license number that corresponded to my maiden name. Since I legally changed my name with the DMV in April 2007 after I got married, and I have voted at least twice since then, I know FOR A FACT that my married name is on the voter rolls, not my maiden name.
Shame on the NJ Board of Elections for using old DMV data. I tried to call the number listed on the letter, but couldn’t get through. I thought, “Well, I’ve voted with my married name before, and my license has a completely different number than this prefilled application. Thank goodness I’m honest and am not registering twice.”
But now, with allegations of fraudulent registration with ACORN (which are mostly bogus and trumped up by the GOP), I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have tried harder to say something. And then someone sent me a link to this Rolling Stone article about how some Republicans are trying to block the votes of Democrats and minorities in swing states (most notably in New Mexico, Colorado, and Michigan).
I’m still not TERRIBLY worried about my situation in particular. In the 6 years that I’ve lived in NJ, I’ve never had a problem voting. I’ve always received an example ballot in the mail before each election, there have never been any lines, and all the poll workers have been friendly and helpful. And despite the fact that the NJ Board of Elections tried to register me twice, I’m (mostly) confident that my married name will be on the rolls come November 4.
Steal Back Your Vote! from Greg Palast on Vimeo.
So what can we do to ensure that our vote counts?
If you or someone you know has been caged, purged, or challenged by election officials call Election Protection 1-866 -OUR-VOTE
- Don’t mail in your ballot. Go in person.
- Do not accept a provisional ballot. In many states anywhere between one in three to one half of all provisional ballots are discarded. Rules are extremely lax on whether or not these ballots need to be counted by election officials. If an election official tries to get you to vote on a provisional ballot, but you know that you are a registered voter,demanda call to the supervisor of elections.
- Vote early. Most states now have a period prior to November 4 when you can cast your vote. This gives you time to get re-registered if you’d been purged from the voter rolls. It also gives you time to go home and pick up your photo ID and bring it back your polling place, if you’ve been rejected for this reason (only some states require photo identification).
- Check online to see if you are still registered. Go to www.votersunite.org/info/RegInfo.asp.
- If you re-register, or register for the first time, pull out your driver’s license and make sure that you fill out your name on your voter registration form in the exact same way as it is spelled on your driver’s license. A number of states are purging voters from the rolls if their driver’s license and registration form are not an “exact match.” As crazy as it sounds, voters are being purged from the rolls if extremely minor variations exist between the two. For example: if your driver’s license says Karen Joy Miller, and your voter registration form lists your name as Karen J. Miller, you can be purged from the rolls.
Good luck, and happy voting!