When all else fails, vote provisionally.

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2006/11/votevotevote-thumb.jpgUsually I hear about people being too lazy to vote, or thinking not voting is some form of protest against “the man” (little do they know, these are “the man’s” favorite people). Then you find someone like new L.A. resident Danah Boyd, aka Zephoria, a Graduate Fellow at USC’s Annenberg Center. She’s also cute and an Ani DiFranco fan, which means “hands off, fellas”. But I digress…

After moving to L.A., Danah had a heck of a time registering to vote… which many xenophobes would have you believe any border jumper who can’t speak a lick of English should be able to do, let alone PhD candidate from Berkely.

Gaaaah!  I moved to Los Angeles. When i did so, i changed my driver license and changed my registration. I never received anything so three weeks ago, i registered to vote again by filling out the form online, getting the paper thing that they send you with everything filled out and sending it back. Still, nothing. So i called the Secretary of State hotline who told me to call LA County. I called them and they told me that i improperly reregistered to vote when i moved back to LA. I was like, move back to LA? I didn’t move back – i just moved here. They then proceeded to tell me that i lived in some address in Long Beach and that the registration material they sent there bounced so i was not registered. I was like, i never lived in Long Beach, and they were like, says here you did.

This is just the beginning of the story, which includes a middle act where she finds herself in tears, and a climactic ending where she ends up having to vote absentee back up in the Bay Area. “This pisses me off,” she writes,  “since i want to vote on local ballot measures but at least i can vote against the evil state measures.”

The big lesson learned here can be found in her comments, where “janemcg” shares some info “for people who are in fact screwed on voting day… You can vote anywhere, it’s called voting via provisional ballot.

The provisional ballot is a thing of beauty – a catch all that guarantees everyone the opportunity to vote. While not ideal, for reasons mentioned below, the availability of a provisional ballot means that nobody should walk away from a polling place being told they’re unable to vote.

  • In spite of recent debates leading one to believe otherwise, California voters already need to provide i.d. in order to vote. However, if you lost, forgot, or just plain don’t want to show yours, you will be allowed to cast a “provisional ballot”. Provisional ballots are scrutinized a little more than a regular ballot, and, technically, may not even be counted unless any of the elections are particularly close
  • You can also use a provisional ballot if you’re stuck away from your assigned polling place but still want to vote. However, you won’t be able to vote on any measures or candidates that are not on the ballot in the location you go to, nor will it count if you vote on any measures or candidates that are available at the location you’re at but wouldn’t be at your assigned polling place. (if you find yourself in this situation, remind yourself next time to either try early or absentee balloting).

More on Provisional Ballots here, including how they’re counted:

After you vote, your ballot will be placed in a special provisional ballot envelope. Your vote will be counted if:

  • The county elections official can verify that you are, in fact, registered to vote and
  • You have not already voted
  • If you go to a precinct other than the one you are assigned, only the votes for the candidates and measures on which you were entitled to vote in your assigned precinct will be counted.

Now for my closing rant…

Regardless of where you stand on the issues or candidates, or even if you haven’t been paying attention at all, demonstrate your patriotism, your frustration towards your goverment, or just take a thirty minute break from the office and get out and VOTE. If you don’t feel well informed enough, don’t feel obligated to make a choice on any ballot measure or political office – leave it blank or do a madlib with the write in, but making use of YOUR ballot will make our politicians aware that there’s one more person who’s vote they may have earned had they better represented their public. And if you’re one of those people who doesn’t vote as an act of protest… the politicans you’re protesting would like to send you a personal thanks.

Oh, Danah’s blog has a surprise twist ending wherein after getting her absentee ballot to vote in San Francisco, someone in Los Angeles heard of her plight and set her up with voting early via Diebold touch screen in Culver City (earning her a special “I voted touchscreen” sticker)… and was unable to get a receipt. Alas, is this a happy ending or not?

Bonus tip: To find your assigned polling place, check out LA Vote’s handy Polling Place and Sample Ballot Look Up… photo by chotda via Flickr.

3 thoughts on “When all else fails, vote provisionally.”

  1. I updated my registration through the website, since I recently moved. I got the card mailed back to me, sent that in, and received my official voter’s registration card last week.

    But I still wasn’t on the roll this morning, and had to use a provisional ballot.

    There’s got to be a better way of doing these elections.

    But then again, what do I know? I wrote-in Gaius Baltar for Governor.

  2. I voted provisionally this morning… it was no problem. But I couldn’t vote on R, H and those other LA city props, as I now live in the People’s Republic of West Hollywood!!!!

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