On Monday's deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 4 election, Secretary of State Debra Bowen will be sponsoring a dawn-to-midnight voter-registration fair on the sidewalk across from the state Capitol. Perhaps its chief value will be as a visually interesting place for TV cameras to get live shots as they remind viewers on Monday that this is their last chance to be relevent in the 2008 election.
Bowen also has laid out a useful list of voting do's and don'ts -- something worth passing along for the political activists who read this blog:
DON'T: Offer incentives to voters for agreeing to register to vote or to vote a certain way. This is illegal under state and federal law.
DO: Know that you may still vote even if you have left your home because of a foreclosure. If you have not formed a new permanent residence, you may vote where you were previously registered.
DON'T: Campaign for votes, solicit petition signatures, or wear campaign materials within 100 feet of a polling place. Electioneering in the immediate area around polling places is illegal in California.
DO: Choose whether to vote at a polling place or vote by mail, and vote by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Any California voter can vote by mail (formerly known as absentee voting). The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot from your county elections office is October 28.
If you prefer the in-person experience, polls will be open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 4. If you are in line when the polls close, you will be allowed to vote. If you would rather vote by mail, remember that those ballots also must be turned in by 8 p.m. on Election Day at a polling place in your county or at your county elections office. Postmarks do not count for ballots.
DON'T: Sit on the sidelines during this important election. Consider other ways to get involved in your democracy. Be a poll worker and help make Election Day run smoother for everyone. Host a ballot study group with your neighbors or family. Volunteer for a campaign you believe in, and encourage others to vote.
DO: Know your voting rights and your polling place. If, for any reason, your name is not on the list at your polling place, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot will be counted after your county elections office has confirmed that you are registered to vote in your county and you did not already vote elsewhere in that election. If you don't know where your polling place is, or if you have any concerns about your election experience, call your county elections office or the Secretary of State's Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE.
Ask a poll worker for assistance if you don't understand your voting system. And if you make a mistake on your ballot, ask a poll worker for a new ballot.