Remedial Practical Civics 100, Lesson 5: “Voting for Dummies Democrats”
OK, class; listen up, and I will explain how Democrats can win elections without suddenly finding new ballots, losing old ballots, disappearing votes by not meeting deadlines, jamming paper clips into ballot scanners, or raising the dead. I’ll be using Georgia as my example, but most of this would apply in every state.
In the 2018 mid-term elections in Georgia, there were many claims of voter suppression by Democrats, most notably gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Abrams asserted that her voters were “suppressed” by them not registering, voting in the wrong location, not knowing the birthdate of the person they were voting as, not wanting to waiting in line to vote, or not bothering to “cure” their provisional or absentee ballots even when the court extended the deadline for them. There were other factors as well, but for the most part, Democrats failed to take over the state because they did not how.
There are generally two years between national elections, so from one to the next, Democrats have that much time to do these things.
First, prospective voters have to register. That’s pretty easy. In fact, when you get a driver license, or state ID, you have to take steps not to be registered automatically. Mostly; there are exceptions and I’ll cover that.
If you didn’t “motor voter” register, you have almost two years — 23 months — to register in time for the next election.
- You can stroll down to the county court house and fill out a form. You’ll need to show current ID showing where you live. Note: You have to register in the county in which you live. ID can be in several forms, including utility bills. Look up the list of acceptable ID on the state website, and bring them.
- If you still don’t have ID, and think you can’t afford one, the state will issue a free one just for voting. So that’s no excuse.
- You can mail in the form, too. SO you don’t need time off work to register. But when you finally vote, you’ll need ID with a signature that matches your registration.
- If you can’t afford a postage stamp, pull out your iPhone and got to the voter registration website and register there.
There are a few limitations on registering to vote. If you aren’t at least 18 years of age, you can’t vote, but you can register 6 months before an election if you’ll be 18 by Election Day. You have to be a US citizen (not just a resident, legal or illegal). You have to reside in the state (and in the county and precinct where you plan to register and vote). If you’ve been convicted of a felony — that means a crime, one with a potential sentence of more than a year, even if the judge sentenced you to less time — you can’t vote until your sentence is completed; that includes parole/probation time outside of prison. And unless you are a Cook County, IL Democrat, you have to be alive.
If you were registered to vote, and then got convicted of a felony, your voter registration will be cancelled. When your sentence — including probation/parole — is completed, you have to register again. Remember that. It isn’t “voter suppression” to not let current felons vote, or require you to register again.
When you receive your voter registration card, look at it. Make sure all the information is correct. If you can’t read it, find a literate friend to do it. Since the cutoff for registration is 30 days before the election, even the most unpopular Democrat has time to find a friend to read it for them.
On that card, you — or your friend — should see something called “POLLING PLACE.” That’s where you’ll actually vote. It matters. Remember it. If you aren’t sure where it is, check Google Maps.
If you move after you registered, you have to update your registration. This makes sure you get to vote where you now live, and get a new card that shows you where to vote. You, or your friend, should make sure the new card is correct.
It’s a good idea to confirm your voter registration shortly before you vote. In Georgia, you can go to the voter registration website, type in your name, county, and date of birth. It will tell you whether or not you are registered, and where. To comply with federal election laws, states sometimes have to unregister — remove from voter rolls — people whose information is wrong, haven’t voted in a long time, been convicted of a felony, moved, and other reasons. You might have been removed since you registered; if you are still eligible to vote, you can re-register now.
Georgia makes it really easy for people to register, update their registration, or re-register. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you didn’t do your part.
Voting is remarkably simple. Sometimes on Election Day, lines can be really long at the “POLLING PLACE.” But that shouldn’t stop you. There are different times and ways to vote.
- If you don’t want to go in and vote at all, you can cast an absentee vote by mail. You can request an absentee ballot a whole six months before the election (before you even know who is running for office), and a ballot will be sent to you when it’s ready, automatically. But you have to remember to request it. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you forget.
- Your absentee ballot essentially has 2 parts. One part is where you tell them who your are so they can make sure no one else uses your name to vote. You’ll have to know certain things like how your name is spelled, when and where you were born, and where you live. If you don’t know those things now — and you had to know them when you registered — then it isn’t “voter suppression” if they don’t let you vote using someone else’s ballot.
- Election officials can only count votes they receive. If they aren’t there, they can’t be counted. You have to mail in your ballot early enough that it will make it through the postal system and be delivered by Election Day. Since this goes through the post office, when has been losing or delaying mail since its creation, you should allow plenty of time. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you didn’t mail your ballot on time.
- If you forgot to do an absentee ballot, you still don’t have to worry about long lines on Election Day, or just getting time off work to vote that day, or being locked up in prison that day. (And if you are locked up, but not yet convicted or under other sentence you could still do an absentee ballot. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you just didn’t bother.)
- Georgia does something called “early voting,” so you can schedule a good time to come vote and avoid lines. You get a whole 3 weeks before Election Day when you can vote in person anyway. Remember to bring the right ID. Remember to go to your “POLLING PLACE” (but double-check that, because the “early voting” location may be different than the Election Day location. It isn’t “voter” suppression” if you go to the wrong place.
- If you still haven’t voted, after a month of other voting options, you have a whole 12 hours to vote on Election Day. Go to the right place; if you went to a county where you don’t live, you are in the wrong place. If you ran late, and got into line before the 12 hours are over, you still get to vote. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you went to the wrong place, or missed a freaking month of voting opportunities.
If, with 2 years to get things right, you still weren’t properly registered, don’t know when you were born, went to the wrong voting location — even in the wrong county! –or otherwise have registration problems, Georgia will still let you cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are not handed out automatically; after all, when you discover you drove to the wrong county, you might drive back to the right place and vote.
You have to ask for a provisional ballot. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you don’t ask.
Provisional ballots are special, for special people. It lets you participate in the voting process on Election Day, but doesn’t necessarily count. The election officials will set it aside, and wait for you to come back with the right ID to “cure” your ballot, by showing that you do live in this county now and forgot to update your registration, or to show that your signature really is yours, or whatever the issue was that caused you to need a provisional ballot.
You have 3 whole business days after Election Day to “cure” your ballot. If you don’t, the election officials won’t count it. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you didn’t care enough to fix your own ballot. Georgia does a lot to help special people vote, but you have to do your part.
When you arrive at your “POLLING PLACE,” you’ll have to fill out a form. It isn’t “voter suppression” meant to make voting too complicated for you; it’s updating the records so someone else doesn’t try to vote in your name. Same for the next step where they compare signatures; they want to be sure it’s you, not someone committing real voter fraud by stealing your vote from you.
Checking your ID or signature isn’t “voter suppression” or “racist.” It’s to prevent fraud. And the election workers may be on high alert because one gubernatorial candidate is on record stating that her voters will be documented and undocumented noncitizens casting illegal ballots.
Casting the actual vote is very important. In most races, such as for governor, you can only vote for 1 candidate; not 2.
If you are using a paper ballot, it’s possible to mark 2 candidates in the same race. If you do this accidentally, and cannot erase the mistake, ask election workers for help, They’ll fix it, or get you a fresh ballot. If you screw up that one, too, they will recognize you as special and give you special attention.
If you mark 2 candidates in the same race, and turn in that ballot, your vote will not be counted because you didn’t tell them which one you meant. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you fill out the ballot wrong. That’s called “over-voting,” by the way.
If you are using a touch screen voting machine, remember that the screen is touch sensitive. If you mark your preferred candidate, and then accidentally touch the screen again, it may change your vote. So it’s very important to be careful when touching the screen. Before you press the button to cast your vote, look and make sure it’s showing the right votes. The machine doesn’t know what you meant to do, only what you did do. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you voted for the wrong person.
Remember to vote in all races on your ballot. If you leave one blank, for instance you forgot to vote for any candidate for governor, your vote won’t be counted because you didn’t vote. That’s called “under-voting,” and it’s the voter’s fault, not the election workers’. It’s isn’t “voter suppression” if you forgot to vote in each race.
Since Georgia has many special people, our touch screen voting machines will remind you if you missed marking a race, and will highlight any such so you can fix it before pressing the “cast vote” button. When a race appears in a funny color on the final review screen with no candidate marked, and the machine says you missed something, it means you missed something. It isn’t “voter suppression” if you ignore the machine’s help and don’t vote in everything.
Finally, if you did wait until Election Day and got stuck in a long line, it isn’t “voter suppression” if you got tired of waiting and left. You decided voting wasn’t important enough for your vote to count.
Voting is very easy. Much of the preparation (registering to vote) is automatic. The system for making sure it’s right is simple, with many options, with nearly 2 years to get it done. With that out of the way, there’s really no excuse for not voting, what with weeks to do so from home, or at multiple locations.
If any step in the process seems hard to understand, you have almost 2 years to study and practice.
Considering all that, if you still can’t figure out how to vote, then you should not be voting. And you’re probably a Democrat.
Actual voter suppression exists. Like when a — -cough- broward — election official “loses” 2,040 ballots, or “finds” more that push her party ahead. Deliberately blowing deadlines so a recount that showed the opposition gaining is disqualified is voter suppression.
Gerrymandering is a form of voter suppression by making sure the opposition won’t have enough voters to overcome the entrenched party.
But you cannot gerrymander state-wide races like US Senate or Governor, because it doesn’t matter what district you’re in; you still get to vote.
If you’re smart enough to follow simple directions.
And when all is said and done… You may have done everything correctly. All your fellow party members may have done it correctly. All your lawful votes counted. And you still might lose. That isn’t “voter suppression” either. It’s just that more people disagreed with your judgement. A majority may have noticed that your candidate thinks radar detectors are banned, wants to steal private property, wants to disenfranchise her own voters by replacing them with illegal noncitizens, and promised you rainbows and unicorns.
Losing isn’t “voter suppression.”