Be A Poll Worker And Save American Democracy

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
September 26, 2008

We are constantly being asked: “What can we do to stop the 2008 election from being stolen?”

Because we broke many of the major stories surrounding the theft of the 2004 election in Ohio (and because after four years it is abundantly clear that election most definitely was stolen) the flow of inquiries is heartfelt and non-stop. We cannot afford to have this happen again on November 4.

There is a simple answer for what you can do: be a poll worker.

There are additional options: be a poll judge, a poll observer, a member of a video the vote team, a voter registration researcher and assistant, an organizer for a post-election public hearing, and more.

This weekend (September 26-8) we are co-convening a national conference in Columbus to review these options. The core of the information will be available in print and video via Over the next few days we will follow this article with more detailed descriptions of what every citizen can do on November 4 to restore the democratic process to this nation. We are also coordinating with Poll Workers for Democracy whose web site contains much valuable information (

Lets start with the poll working:

It is our goal to have at least one non-partisan poll worker who is committed to protecting the vote in every precinct in America. In many states this is a paying position ($120 for the day in Ohio). It is a very long day. It may also require advance training from the board of elections, but in Ohio such sessions are also paid.

Throughout the US boards of elections are desperate for poll workers. The average age has been creeping up over the past decades, and in many instances there are critical shortages. You should not have trouble finding a position.

We have significant testimony from poll workers who saved literally hundreds of votes in 2004 in such simple ways as splitting long lines that were misdirected to wrong precinct stations, or making sure the doors stayed open, as legally required, for those who were still waiting to cast a ballot at closing time. There is much more, including the simple act of making sure voters who want them get paper ballots.

Overall, the power of even a single poll worker inside a polling station who is committed to democracy can be immense. Above all, do not throw up your hands and say “there’s nothing I can do” when these positions are crying out to be filled.

Poll judgeships can be harder to obtain. But poll judges can have significant impact on guaranteeing a fair vote count. This position could be essential in gaining whatever monitoring powers there may be over electronic voting machines whose source code and vote count will be hidden from the pubic.

In Ohio, election protection attorneys (including co-author Fitrakis) have won observer status for representatives of the Green, Libertarian and Nader campaigns. This means independent observers can join Democrats and Republicans in closely monitoring the vote from inside the polls.

We also urge citizens to join the Video the Vote teams that will be going to thousands of polling stations. We hope to see at least one video crew present at every precinct in the country.

The bare but vital footage that was shot at besieged inner city precincts in central Ohio 2004 has stood as a vital beacon to show the tip of how thousands of voters were deliberately disenfranchised. This time, we need saturation coverage to protect against and document every possible violation of our rights as citizens.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans who think they are registered to vote may not be. This is due to a concerted campaign to cage and purge voter rolls. A wide range of technicalities are being used to eliminate countless citizens from the lists of those who are entitled to a ballot but who will be denied one unless steps are taken.

In the lead-up to November 4, be sure to check your own voting status. And volunteer to work with those who may believe their voting status is secure, but who in fact have been targeted for disenfranchisement.

Remember that the US Supreme Court has approved an Indiana law requiring photo ID to vote. This backdoor poll tax will be used to eliminate millions of voters this year unless a concerted effort is made to organize these citizens and get them the necessary papers. It can—must—be done.

But it will take people like you to do it.

Likewise, we must be prepared to conduct public hearings after the election to document violations. After the elections of 2004, the election protection team took testimony from about a thousand Ohio citizens who were denied their right to vote or suffered other attacks during the balloting process. These witnesses were sworn in under legal statute so their testimony could be used in ensuing lawsuits. Such documents have been essential in the on-going King-Lincoln lawsuit.

There are many other things citizens dedicated to restoring American democracy can do before, during and after November 4.

Above all, there is no excuse for throwing up one’s hands and saying “there is nothing I can do.”

Never was that admission of avoidance more untrue. And never has it been more potentially lethal.

In the coming days, we will present the details from our conference in print and video at

If you need further incentive, look back on what has happened to our country these past eight years.

To save American democracy, focus what you can do, pick something…and DO IT! The planet you save will be your own.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including AS GOES OHIO: ELECTION THEFT SINCE 2004, now at, where they are publisher and senior editor.