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Bexar County Voter Rights Coalition working to protect your vote

Several interesting factoids from today's Bexar County Voter Rights Coalition/Field Investigator meeting hosted by the Neighborhoods First Alliance and MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund). The meeting was held at the Claude W. Black Community Center for the purpose of training volunteer field investigators for Tuesday's monumental election. About 25 people attended.

N.F.A. President T.C. Calvert reported that his organization is already getting many complaints from voters here in San Antonio and around the state of voter suppression and intimidation. Calvert also reported that voters in heavily Republican local precincts two and three have voted already at a 50 percent clip, while voters in Democratic leaning districts one and four are at less than 25 percent so far.

Calvert went on to say that the majority of local complaints in the 2004 election occurred right after the polls opened at 7 a.m., so early bird voters should be on guard. He also noted that because of heavy voter registration drives, some people's registration cards have not yet been processed through the system. Voters who get denied should be aware of their rights. See the Texas Voters' Bill of Rights at:

Attorney Louis Figueroa from MALDEF said that while early voting can take place at any voting center through tomorrow, voters need to get to their correct precincts on Election Day because "if you cast a provisional ballot in the wrong precinct, it's not going to get counted here in Texas."

Figueroa also mentioned an incident of voter intimidation where "we had an election judge tell an African-American gentleman to 'take that doo-rag off your head.'"

"In New Mexico, we filed a lawsuit just yesterday about a private investigator pretending to be a county official doing home visits, telling people they aren't eligible and could be deported if they vote," Figueroa continued.

Another point made was that every poll site in Texas MUST make Spanish language ballots available if requested.

The Bexar County Voter Rights Coalition will be holding another training meeting for volunteer field investigators on Saturday at the St. Mary's University law library at 10 a.m., open to any citizens interested in participating:
Community leaders will train interested citizens to become Field Investigators who can report VOTER SUPPRESSION, INTIMIDATION AND PERSONS BEING DENIED THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION NOVEMBER 4TH, 2008

This second training will take place at:
Sarita Kenedy East
Law Library
School of Law
St. Mary's University
One Camino Santa Maria
San Antonio, Texas 78228
ph: (210) 436-3435

For More Information, please contact T.C. Calvert 226.9041 or by email at or Louis Figueroa, 224.5476

Voter Protection Hotline: 1-877-224-5476

Ace investigative journalist Greg Palast (who broke the story on how Florida was stolen in 2000) suggests that voting early is the best way to make sure your vote counts, so all are advised to get out and cast your vote on Halloween. Palast offers "7 Easy Steps to Steal Back Your Vote":

1. Don't don't don't Mail In Your Ballotâ??unless...

For those of you who mailed in your ballot, please tell me, what happened to it? You don't know, do you? I can tell you that officially, three-fourths of a million absentee ballots were never counted last time, on the weakest of technical excuses. And you won't even know it. Furthermore, tens of thousands of ballots are not mailed out to voters in time to return them - in which case you're out of luck. Most states won't let you vote in-precinct once you've applied to vote absentee. Every time I hear of a voter going “absentee” to avoid computer screens, I want to “go postal” myself.

But for gosh sakesâ??don't throw out your ballot if you have a mail-in. Either mail it in, making sure to include ID if required (you first-time voters) or, better, WALK it into your county clerk's office.

2. Vote Early...very early

Every state now lets voters cast ballots in designated polling stations and at county offices in the weeks before Election Day. Do it. Don't wait until Election Day to find out you have the wrong ID, your registration's “inactive,” or you're on a challenge list. By Election Day, there's little to do but hold up the line.

3. Register and Register and Register

Think you're registered to vote? Think again. With all this purg'n going on, you could be x'd out and you won't know it. Check online with your Secretary of State's office or call your County Board of Elections. Then register your girlfriend, your wife, your mailman and your mommy. Contact the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the League of Women Voters, and your local party organization, and commit to a couple of days of door-to-door registration, especially in minority neighborhoods or at social service agency offices. And if you've served the time, you can sign: in almost every state, ex-cons can vote.

4. Vote Unconditionally, Not Provisionally

In 2008, they'll be handing out provisional ballots like candy, especially to Hispanic voters. If your right to vote is challenged, don't accept a provisional ballot that will likely not get counted no matter what the sweet little lady at the table tells you. She won't decide; partisan sharks will. Demand adjudication from poll judges on the spot; demand a call to the supervisor of elections; or return with acceptable ID if possible. And be a champ: defend the rights of others.

If you've taken Step 1 above and voted early, you have Election Day free to be a poll watcher. Run into trouble­â??you've been caged or purged or challengedâ??call Election Protection at 1-(866) OUR-VOTE. Then challenge the challengers, the weird guys with Blackberrys containing lists of “suspect” voters. Be firm, but no biting.

5. Occupy Ohio, Invade Nevada

The revolution will not be podcast. Let go of that mouse, get out of your PJs and take the resistance door-to-doorâ??to register the vote, to canvass the voters, to get out the vote. Donate time to your union (if you're not in a union, why not?) or to the troublemakers I've already listed here and on our site. This may seem a stupendously unoriginal suggestion, but I know of no other method more effective for confronting the armed and dangerous junta that has seized the White House.

6. Date a Voter

Voting, like bowling and love, should never be done alone. As our sponsor, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, says, make a date to â??Arrive with Five.' And keep this comic book in your holster - with our 800 numbers and your photo ID in your hand. And Bobby, make sure your ID says, “Robert Kennedy JUNIOR” or your vote is toast.

7. Make the Democracy Demand: No Vote Left Behind!

I have this crazy fantasy in my head. In it, an election is stolen and the guy who's wrongly declared the loser stands up in front of the White House and says three magic words: “Count the votes.” You can have all the paper ballots in the world, but if you don't demand to look at them, publicly, in a recount, you might as well mark them with invisible ink. Democracy requires vigilance The Day After. That's when you check in at one more time.

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