Early, but please, not often (Nov 06)

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I have one message for our readers this week: regardless of party affiliation, do everything in your power to ensure a high level of participation and vigilance in the elections this Tuesday. We are entering this mid-term election with stark choices about the direction of our country and our communities. And there is a strong sense of doubt — generated from incidents in Maryland, Ohio, and Florida among others — about whether our electoral systems, both human and mechanical, can honor a strong and trustworthy electoral process.
But that’s where nonprofits come in. As organizations that are deeply rooted in our communities, it is part of our responsibility as civic institutions to inform people about the issues, do what we can to help them vote, and then ensure that their votes count. Here are some things you can do in the few days we have left.
— Contribute to a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort. There are many groups around the country focusing on getting out voters early next week; join one. Or, simply focus on contacting the people you work with every day. Put up signs in your office and make sure others in your building and neighborhood are aware that Tuesday is election day and that their vote is important.
— Offer rides to those in your community who may need help getting to the polls.
— Encourage your staff and constituents to watch the polls for difficulties and report them as soon as you see them. Spread the word about efforts such as:
— The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (sponsored by the National Campaign for Fair Elections) is staffed with live volunteers ready to help you with voting irregularities and answer questions on election day about rules, regulations, and procedures.
VoterStory.Org will also be providing organizations a “widget” that they can install on their Website to enable voters to report problems, as well as a hotline (866-MyVote1) where voters can ask questions and report problems.
— If you are an employer, consider giving part of the day off to your employees to vote and to contribute to these efforts.
To find out more about what nonprofits can do both for this election and future ones, refer to the excellent and easy-to-understand guide produced by the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network.