What were you doing the day before that election?
That’s going to be the question people are asking one another years from now about tomorrow’s important election.
Will you say you worked hard? Did all you could? Did nothing?
What “Black Leaders” Said
This morning, Sen. Obama held an African American Leadership Conference Call featuring Donna Brazile, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Oprah, Diddy, and others. What those people had to say was really nothing remarkable. Brazile did give another number to use if you have trouble at the polls: 877-US-4-OBAMA. Use it.
What Senator Obama Said
Senator Obama spent much more time speaking with all of us than I expected him to. During his 5 or 6 minute remarks (I expected maybe 2 minutes), he sounded exceptionally calm, thoughtful, and reflective. Wouldn’t it be great to have leadership like that?
He talked about the importance of the journey that he has traveled with his supporters. He talked about the historical importance of his campaign and potential election for Black adults and children alike. He talked about why the “fierce urgency of now” must energize everyone to work through tomorrow to ensure that people are heard and able to vote. He did not give us a stump speech. He did not repeat his closing arguments. Instead, he gave a personal set of remarks that really gave insight onto who he is as a person. And all of this was after he already found out about the passing of his grandmother. Wow.
What were you doing?
I’m not saying that to brag. I’m saying that to show that we all have things that we can do. It’s not enough to vote. We deserve the leadership we work for.
Barack Obama understood that and empowered everyday people to do more this season than any campaign ever has. Let’s use this collective power to work for better leadership this Election Day, and every day after.
One Love. One II.
Brandon and I have been hearing all kinds of weird interesting things that people are doing between now and the close of the polls tomorrow. A couple examples:
- “Man, I’m not gonna _________ until _________ gets elected tomorrow.”
Fill in the blanks with whatever you want: eat, shower, shave, hoop, whatever. After you finish working your ass off today or tomorrow, take time and do what you have or want to do. This isn’t the time for silly superstitions.
- If Obama doesn’t win, I’m going to _________.
Fill in this blank with something riotous, violent, or offensive. While many people may be upset at McCain winning, burning up poor neighborhoods probably isn’t going to accomplish much. Consider doing something more productive.
Let’s work hard. Let’s be smart. Let’s vote. Let’s make sure others vote. But in doing that, let’s still take care of our kids tonight. Let’s still stay clean while we await the next President.
Don’t do anything stupid. Trust me, everything will be alright.
One Love. One II.
My girlfriend and I have been doing a pretty large amount of volunteering for local political efforts here in Seattle, including Barack Obama and the Mass Transit Now Campaign. This has included lit dropping, my own work managing the Social Media and Text Message Strategy for WA Obama campaign, and phone banking for Obama and Mass Transit Now. It’s been a great experience.
While making calls, I’ve noticed an interesting trend: people ardently refusing to share how they voted in a particular race or on a particular issue.
Do most people feel this way?
I don’t understand the harm in sharing the way that you voted with another person after you’ve already voted. The vote is cast, the deal is done, so why not talk about it?
At first I thought that the people were just annoyed by the phone call, but that wasn’t the case, as most of them were quite talkative. Then I thought, maybe they’re ashamed or embarrassed by their vote, not wanting to tell me because they voted against the cause I was pedaling. Could be. Then I thought, maybe it’s generational, with older voters holding their votes more private & sacred, but this was dispelled when an 18 year-old people told me he wouldn’t share.
I guess I’ll just put this in the “things other people do that I’d never do” pile.
One Love. One II.
YES! Magazine released today their 12 Ways You Can Safeguard the Vote tool. It contains links to lots of great resources, and tips for what you can do before, on, and after Election Day to make sure that your vote is properly counted.
Here is their checklist:
- Check Your Registration. Make sure there are no errors, mistakes, or discrepancies which would prevent you from being able to vote.
- Vote Now. Vote early, in person or by mail, if you can in your state. Check if you can using Know How To Vote.
- Learn how to vote. Read your voter pamphlet to understand how your paper ballot works, and if voting using an electronic machine, get a clear demonstration first.
- Identify State & Local election officials. Get their names and numbers because these are the people to call if there are problems.
- Vote as early as possible on Election Day to avoid long lines & hassle.
- If you have ID, bring it with you. If you have a cell phone, bring that too.
- Avoid straight-party voting. Vote for each race individually, to make sure your votes each count exactly as you want them to.
- Verify your vote, especially when voting on an electronic voting machine. There have already been cases in states like West Virginia where people used the touch screen to select Barack Obama but had the machine count their vote for John McCain. Just like at the store, get a receipt.
- Observe, Document, Report. If you or anyone else that you see has issues voting, take good notes & inform the authorities using resources such as 866-OUR-VOTE.
- Call your candidate. Encourage them to challenge results you don’t trust. Sign up to help.
- Call your election officials. Hold them accountable to their responsibility to ensure clean elections
- Work towards fair and transparent elections. Learn about election & voting issues, and take action before the next election.
One Love. One II.
P.S. I recently joined the Communications Advisory Board of YES! Magazine.
On Monday, I was interviewed as part of a small series on Politics and Technology by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine. We talked at length about early voting, why it’s such a big issue this election, what are the types of good & bad things that we can do with early voting data, and ways that people can find out early voting information with tools like Know How To Vote.
I’m looking forward to talking with Jeff again about Politics and Technology soon.
One Love. One II.
Now that early voting registration is over in most states, it’s time to think about actually voting!
I think of elections in 3 ways:
- Voter Registration Done. (Everyone is registered, right?)
- Voter Education
- Election Protection
Voter Education means making sure people know the rules & laws of voting in their state so that they can exercise their right to vote in the way that is legal and most convenient for them. Brandon’s list of MI Voting Rights is a great education tool, and something similar exists for each state. Election protection is the process of making sure that every vote that is cast is correctly counted. We’ll get to this one shortly…
Vote Early or Absentee if you can
Here’s why you should vote early:
- If there are issues or problems with your registration, you can have them addressed long before election day.
- Voting earlier means your vote is counted earlier, which means that there’s less of a chance of your vote magically changing on election night.
- It just makes your life easier. Take a look at this great blog post on Early Voting at Daily Kos.
In the spirit of Voter Education & encouraging voters to vote smart and vote early, I created a site called Know How To Vote (www.knowhowtovote.us). Know How To Vote will tell you how to vote early in your state (if it’s possible), and how to vote absentee in your state. You can find the info in 2 ways:
- From your cell phone:
Text HOWTOVOTE & your state’s 2-letter abbreviation (e.g. MI for Michigan) to 41411.This will let you know if you can vote early in your state and if voting absentee in your state requires an excuse. It will also give you a website URL that you can go to for more detailed information.
- From the web @ www.knowhowtovote.us
Go to the site and type in your state’s 2-letter abbreviation to see detailed early & absentee voting info for any state, including whether you can vote early at all, in person, or by mail, and how to submit your reason/excuse for early/absentee voting according to state law
Find out quickly how to vote early in your state, wherever you are. If you’re talking about voting with your friends at work and on the bus, show them on the spot how to vote early by sending a text message.
In this election season, using technology to help the electoral process is not only easier than ever, it’s more important than ever. Sending text messages is already fun; let’s make it meaningful.
One Love. One II.
P.S. Yes, this was a personal plug :-).
I co-hosted a Debate Party on Friday night that doubled as a Fundraiser for Barack Obama. The party was fun, the food was delicious, and the people I watched the debate with, including the Bus Chick & people from YES! Magazine and Reclaim the Media, couldn’t have been cooler.
What could have been better was my candidate’s performance. Here’s why this debate was a lost opportunity:
- Too much agreement
- Posturing on Pakistan & Afghanistan
- Nuclear Iran only posing a threat to Israel
- Iran’s army is a terrorist organization
- Venezuela is a rogue nation
(All the references I make here can be seen in the Debate Transcript, courtesy of the New York Times.)