Twice. And counting.
**DISCLAIMER: CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS, YOUR LAST DAY TO REGISTER TO VOTE BEFORE THE PRIMARY ELECTION ON JUNE 7 IS TODAY, MAY 23. FOR INFO ON HOW TO REGISTER, GO HERE**
Voting season is upon us,
people who stole indigenous land Americans. And it can get a little tricky if you aren’t white because of all the requirements, laws, deadlines, rules, and other red tape. So I thought I’d put together a how-to guide. And since there’s a lot I still need to learn and my voting knowledge mostly pertains to California, I’ve included links to some helpful outside resources. Let’s get our democracy on.
1. Voting Requirements
To vote, you have to be a U.S. citizen and 18 years old. Some states allow you to vote in the presidential primaries if you aren’t 18 but will be by the time of the general election. And your eligibility to vote in a specific state depends on your residence. Basically, whatever state you live in is where you can vote. But determining residency can be tricky, so see below for some helpful links.
College students go here.
Citizens living outside the U.S., uniformed service members and their families go here.
And you don’t necessarily even have to have a street address to vote. This is the case in California, where, if you’re technically homeless, you can still vote. You just have to provide as precise a description as possible of the location you live when you’re registering—whether that’s an intersection, reference to landmarks, the In-N-Out where the 101 meets the 10 before the 110, etc.
When you register, you can pick a party affiliation or choose not to. Of course the most talked-about parties are Democrat and Republican, but there are multiple other choices, like Green, Libertarian, etc. Whether a party is on the ballot for a certain election depends on the state (e.g. the Green party is only on the ballot for the 2016 presidential election in certain states).
The reason the party you pick matters is because it can determine if/when you can vote. For example, in closed primaries, you can only vote if you are registered with the party holding the primary election. This is what happened in the recent democratic and republican primaries in New York—approximately 3 million people couldn’t vote because they’re registered as “independents,“ which means they’re not affiliated with a party. Whereas in open primaries, you can vote regardless of party affiliation.
And make sure that if you want to vote in a certain party’s election, you have that party’s ballot. For example, in CA, you can vote in the democratic primary if you are registered as an independent/no party preference, but in order to do so, you have to request the democratic ballot, either at the poll, or request to receive it via mail if you’ll be voting by mail.
Regardless of what you decide to do, just make sure you understand what it means to affiliate with a certain party, because sometimes the titles are misleading. For example, in California, registering with the “American Independent Party” does not mean you’re an “independent” (i.e. have no party affiliation or preference). It means you’re registered with what’s commonly referred to as the “Tea Party,” an extremely conservative, right wing party. In other words, you’re an asshole in the asshole party, even if you didn’t mean to be. So do your research.
For more info on voting by state go here.
Here’s a list of answers to voting FAQs.
There are different ways you can register to vote and different ways you can vote. You can register using a hard copy form that you mail in or drop off at your registrar’s office, or, in some places, you can register online. However you do it, just make sure to periodically check your voter registration status, because, as we’ve been seeing, a lot of voter fraud is occurring where people are having their registration status and party preference changed without their consent.
As for voting, you can do it in person at the polls, drop off your ballot at an official drop-off box /location, or by mail. Each has its pros and cons. If you go in person, you can ensure your ballot goes where it’s supposed to (theoretically), versus trusting it won’t get lost or stolen in the mail. But you can also get stuck in horrendous lines at the polls, and be told by incompetent poll workers that you can’t vote for one B.S. reason or another. And for most of us, going to the polls means missing work—which is fine if you have a boss who’s rational, but those are about as common as a truth spoken by Hillary Clinton, so mail-in or drop-off voting often is just easier.
I would say that if you choose to go to the polls, be prepared to prove that you are entitled to vote. This means printing out and bringing all documentation possible that shows you are registered, under whatever party. This can be the stub you receive when you fill out a paper registration form, or the page showing your voter reg status when you check it online, etc.
It’s important to be properly registered and have proof accordingly, because it entitles you to vote using a regular, official ballot (as opposed to a provisional ballot). The reason you want to avoid using provisional ballots is that it means your vote may not be counted, because provisional ballots are used when there are doubts or questions as to a person’s eligibility to vote—they’re essentially placeholder ballots until the voter’s registration status can or cannot be verified. So, for example, you could show up to the poll ready to vote, and be told by Patty, the sassy, red-white-and-blue-, visor-wearing
troll poll worker, that you’re not listed as registered, and thus that you can only use a provisional ballot, and if she and her team of equally useless poll workers are able to validate your registration, your vote will count, but if they find it invalid, it won’t. So do whatever you can to get your hands on a non-provisional ballot. This is why it’s important to bring evidence you can shove in Patty’s stupid powdered face that shows you are legally allowed to vote and, furthermore, she can suck it. Also bring contact information for voter fraud resources with you, in case Patty gets real salty and you have to stick the authorities on her ass. Below are helpful resources:
For info from the ACLU on voting rights go here.
To Report Voter Fraud go here.
Another thing is that you can choose to be a permanent mail-in voter. That way, if you ever can’t make it to the polls for an election, you’ll always have the mail-in option to fall back on. But, you can still go to the polls if you so choose—just make sure to bring the ballot that was mailed to you with you to the polls, because I don’t think they’ll provide you with another one. (This may not be the case in all states, so to double check your situation, again check your state’s voting website).
Look, I’ll be the first to concede that there is not a direct correlation between whether or not you vote and your level of civic engagement, passion, or activism. And I say that because of the way our political system works in the U.S.—it is so much an established system of corruption and greed, that most of the time our voting choices are just a bunch of evils who we try in vain to weigh against each other and categorize as “lesser” and “greater.” So I don’t blame people for abstaining from participating in an unjust process and not voting. But, when we have an option to vote for a candidate like Bernie Sanders—a man who, although far from perfect, has dedicated his life to serving the working class, improving life for the masses, and precisely fighting against the corruption that plagues our political processes—I think the argument for voting becomes much more persuasive.
Furthermore, if you are disillusioned with the political system, there are plenty of non-establishment, non-two party candidates to vote for too, like Jill Stein of the Green Party. People will say there’s no point in voting for someone like her because she can’t win in our current system. But to that, I’d say that a vote is a statement, and should be principled as such. A vote for someone is a vote for that person and that person only. The whole game of voting strategically, so that someone doesn’t get elected, instead of taking principled stands and voting to get someone elected, is the problem—if everyone voted on their conscience, I’d be willing to bet the system would change, and “underdog” candidates would have a chance at getting elected and causing progressive change.
I encourage everyone to vote according to their beliefs. (Unless you believe Hillary Clinton is upstanding. Or Donald Trump). But seriously, voting is a right, regardless of beliefs, and I think everyone should be able to access it and exercise it with responsibility—research your options, candidates, and other ballot measures thoroughly, consider what they mean for you and the rest of the world, and then vote, or don’t.
Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/voting-a-how-to-guide/
And he says he’ll vote if he can take you out.
“FINE. But only if you vote for Bernie.”
If you’re #FeelingtheBern as much as I am, there is a lot you can do to help get Bernie Sanders elected. Here are some ways you can get involved.
Volunteering is probably the best thing you can do. Click on the link above to sign up, and see below for several specific things you can do as a volunteer.
This is one of the most important ways people can volunteer for Bernie. Phone banking is basically cold calling people on behalf of the campaign. It sounds intimidating, because most of us don’t give anyone who cold calls us the time of day. But it’s 100x easier and better than you fear. It’s a simple process and you get to use a tool called the “Bernie Dialer” (how BOMB is that). The above link provides step-by-step instructions, including a script of what to say, and you can do it from basically anywhere, for however long you want during the designated hours on the site, as long as you have a computer or tablet and a phone (perpetually sweatpant/PJ-wearing people, unite! You can literally change the world from your couch).
You’re not even necessarily trying to convince people to vote for Bernie or asking for money, so it doesn’t even get that awkward—you’re primarily gathering data that will be helpful to the campaign, like identifying Bernie supporters and non-supporters, or encouraging people to get out and vote, and so on. The goal of phone banking changes depending on the day (because it relates to which state primaries and caucuses are coming up), which is all updated on the website so it’s easy to understand what the directive is for whenever you decide to do it.
It’s all part of an empirical process, which is not only cool to learn about, but also means that you won’t be doing anything inappropriate—you’ll only be calling people who have made their contact info available to the campaign, (whether by registering to vote, affiliating with a political party in a certain geographical area, or otherwise), so it’s not like you’re illegally invading their privacy. And even if they react negatively, all you have to do is politely thank them for their time, silently curse them, and put them down as “do not call” for the future (you enter the results of each call using the Bernie Dialer so the campaign knows who to not call again, if someone no longer lives at their listed number, and other things like that).
The best part is that people hold phone banking parties, where a bunch of you get together to do it, so you can commiserate, eat and drink (we’ll literally do anything if it means we get fed). And most people who attend phone banking parties don’t already know each other, so you don’t have to worry about feeling out of place. But you’ll basically become family—there are a few things in life that bond people like none other: going to war, raising a child with someone, and phone banking. And trust me, you’ll only get one or two people who yell at you about how they hope Trump wins and “gets those Arabs out of New York,” so don’t even sweat it!
Check the link^^ to find a phone banking party near you. Or host your own! And try to get in some calls before the New York primary tomorrow if you can!
You can find a training session to attend on the above link so you’ll be equipped to get out and register voters. This is important because when there’s a high voter turnout, Bernie does better. And with all of the voter fraud that’s been going on, it’s important that people are given fair access to their right to vote, and understand what registering under certain political parties means for when/where they can vote, as well as deadlines, voter ID laws, etc.
3. Go to events
There are tons of events you can attend in support of Bernie—rallies, voter registration drives, marches, canvassing opportunities, etc.—where you’ll meet great people and learn of all sorts of volunteer opportunities and other important election info. Check the above link to find an event near you.
4. Spread the word
Information is power, so use any avenue you can, including social media, to spread the word about Bernie, his policies, pertinent election info, etc.
Learn about the delegate process
The delegate process is confusing and largely inaccessible. What most of us don’t realize is that we can take part in it. We can have a hand in choosing who the pledged delegates for our candidate will be. For example, in California, on May 1 we have caucuses to select delegates from each congressional district who will represent Bernie at the state and national Democratic conventions. While the delegate selection process varies state-to-state, it is important to be involved because we need delegates who are strong Bernie supporters to go to bat for him on the floor at these conventions. In some cases, when not enough delegates are elected by the public to fill the designated quotas, the Democratic party will assign them. Which is unfortunate because the Democratic party (i.e. DNC and its surrogates) isn’t very Bernie-friendly—so it may end up assigning Bernie delegates who might not show up when they’re supposed to or decide to switch sides.
This is a broad and far from comprehensive overview of the delegate process, and doesn’t even mention the Superdelegates, which are equally incomprehensible and I’ll get to below, but it gives you a glimpse of how important it really is. So to find out more about it, please visit the website for your state’s Democratic party to learn about their specific delegate selection process (you can access this info by Googling “[Insert state here] democratic party delegate selection process“). For example, here is the link to CA’s democratic party’s delegate selection process.
You’ll probably have to do a lot of digging, because this information is intentionally made hard to find, so if you have specific questions, let me know in a comment and I’ll help.
Help woo the Superdelegates
The average contribution to Bernie’s campaign is $27. More than 2 million people have contributed almost 7 million times. This campaign is a true grassroots movement, and any little bit helps. We’re showing the world that the power does not belong to those who pay $353,400 to have dinner with a presidential candidate. It belongs to us.
Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/can-help-get-bernie-sanders-elected/
Republicans are… the worst. They range on a sliding scale from really bigoted and greedy to slightly less bigoted and greedy. Some of them want to be selective republicans (i.e., “I’m socially liberal but fiscally conservative“), but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a fucking Republican; (news flash: thinking gay marriage is all good does not negate your insistence that rich people should pay the same amount of taxes as someone living below the poverty line. BLOW ME.). Needless to say, interacting with them without becoming homicidally suicidal is basically impossible. So allow me to help you—here’s how to talk to republicans.
Try to find some common ground
And cling to that. Do not veer onto other topics of conversation—stick with only what you can agree on. I.e.:
•”So, I bet you like ice cream. Everybody likes ice cream, right?”…… “Oh, you think it’s a gateway drug? Okay.”
•”Aren’t cardinals just beautiful birds?”…… “You don’t like them because they’re red, the color of grubby Communist leeches? Great!”
•”It’s so hot out today!”….. “Climate change isn’t real?… Awesome.”
Inebriation will just help so much with the whole being in their presence thing. It’ll be easier to let the awful things they say slide off your shoulders if you’re two sheets to the wind. But make sure to stay happy drunk—the last thing we need is to enter the belligerent drunk zone, where all will go to hell at the first mention of “pro life.”
Imagine you’re talking to a small child
Turn up the baby voice, use only simple words, and speak very slowly. E.g.:
•”Hi there! That is a pretty shirt you have on.” [Pinch their cheeks]
•”Well aren’t you just a little bitty cutie wootie! Yes you are. Yes you are!”
•”I bet you have a lot of cool toys! Let me guess—some baby dolls, toy guns, and a miniature Audi R8?”
If politics come up, you cannot stand idly by while they spout absurd nonsense. It is your duty to speak out and protest. So challenge them on their stances. Like, if they say they don’t think healthcare should be socialized, ask them if they think it’s a human right and should be accessible to all people, or only those
who cheat on their taxes and hide their money in offshore trust funds so they’re wealthy enough to afford its exorbitant costs. If they’re a proponent of U.S. military violence and intervention abroad, ask them on precisely what grounds, demanding they explain starting from the inception of whatever conflict/war they’re attempting to justify (so at least a century ago). If they say they’re against abortion, ask them why they think it’s their right to dictate what other women can do with their bodies, when they’re perfectly entitled to control their own shitty body and decide whether or not to litter the earth with their own terrible offspring. And because undoubtedly their claims will be baseless, come ready with a printed and bound book of written sources that provide evidence to back up your assertions. And a mic to drop.
Sometimes it’s just too much, because you can’t stand what they’re saying and you can’t change their minds—so just don’t talk to them if you can avoid it. If you can’t avoid it (which like why couldn’t you unless you willingly surround yourself with repubs, which says a lot more about your character judgment and integrity than anything else—meaning it says that you’re the problem, because you can’t just ‘agree to disagree’ with the most important people in your life on the most important issues in your life/the world/everyone else’s lives DON’T BE SO SELFISH AND HYPOCRITICAL), then just always have an excuse ready to get out of the conversation. Whether it’s that you need to grab some water [and never come back], are deaf, just got a call that your neighbor’s cat is in the ER, or that there are lots of homeless people dying on the streets who need your help because contrary to some people’s beliefs, they’re not just lazy drug addicts mooching off the welfare system, just bow out. #SEEYA #wouldn’twannabeya #orhaveyouinelectedoffice
Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/how-to-talk-to-republicans/
A great piece from the Village Voice: Feeling the Yern: Why One Millennial Woman Would Rather Go to Hell Than Vote for Hillary