November 2, 2004 – Make Your Vote Count!
Give your vote a paper trail.
Vote by absentee, early, advanced, mail, or fax ballot, where allowed.
Apply for a paper ballot online, via fax, mail, or by calling, writing, or visiting your local election office, in accordance with the your State's regulations.

Why Paper Ballots?

Will you be away from home when the time comes to vote? Or, are you afraid your computerized vote might vanish without getting counted? Use paper. After all, it is easier to take the poll to the person than the person to the poll, and besides, there are several kinds of paper ballots that offer convenient ways to fulfill the privilege of this civic duty.

After the failure of so many voting machines in the 2000 election, National attention focused on computerized voting, all the while decrying its lack of a paper trail. Strangely enough, without the use of the newer computer systems or any kind of voting machines, we already have a system in place that comes fully equipped with a paper trail, the paper ballot.

Although nearly every state in the Union has used paper ballots for years, there is scarcely a mention of this fact in the mass media. It is time we said more about all the handy ways that paper ballots are now used to help us vote, and it is definitely time to consider how paper ballots can help us out in the 2004 election. For a glimpse of what is currently possible, check out the variety of applications used today in the State-by-State listing below.


The Paper Alternative


Many states have improved upon the familiar absentee ballot. Dusting off all of its unnecessary restrictions, they have taken advantage of time saving communications techniques. Crowded roads and stormy weather need not impede those of us who are allowed to vote-by-mail or vote-by-fax with paper ballots.

Speaking of time, in some states folks can even vote before and all the way up to the election. They do not need an absentee excuse either. It is easy to see that the advanced vote and early vote are extremely compatible with our busy American lifestyle. Again, in some places this is accomplished with paper ballots. And what about the special procedures available for those who are disabled, ill, or have been struck by an emergency? And how about those of us who are traveling, are in the Military or are living overseas? You guessed it. There are paper ballots for those of us too.

An equally precious paper ballot for some, however, is the provisional ballot. During the last presidential election far too many were turned away from the polls because their names had been wrongly removed from the voter rolls, something which four years later still has not been corrected. The provisional ballot allows someone to vote, whose name is not on the voter roll, with the understanding that their registration must check out before it can be counted. Once again, paper to the rescue.

Yes, our states have begun to think out of the black box, but they have only just begun. We can learn from our successes and failures only if we are willing to examine the results. Like anything else worthwhile; this will take effort on our part.


Application for a Paper Ballot

It is necessary to apply for the paper ballots discussed here and referenced in the state-by-state and territorial charts that follow. In most cases ballot application forms can be obtained from either a state, a county, or a district office. Where a form is not available on the Internet, often an application may be obtained by calling or visiting an election office, or in lieu of a particular form the required application information may be provided in a written letter, by fax, or over the telephone.


Special Military and Overseas Requirements

Those who are in the Military or are living overseas look to both their state of residence and Federal regulations for direction. To determine exactly what the requirements are for your state check with the local district of the state in which you are registered. The Federal Government directions for citizens of American Territories are found in Federal procedures.

The fastest way to process a ballot is by fax through the local office in the district in which one is registered. If the ballot application is not available online ask your local office to fax you the application. Fax or mail your application for a ballot as soon as you possibly can. Vote as soon as you receive your ballot and if the local regulations allow, fax your ballot back to your local office, otherwise you may need to mail it. Some states also require that your ballot be notarized, be mindful of the postage, and carefully check with the regulations in your state for overseas ballots to make certain you have met your state's requirements.


Get It Right, Get it Counted

The voting regulations, procedures, and forms vary widely from state to state. The ways that one may use a paper ballot can also differ from county to county. Even though every effort has been made to obtain the appropriate link to the official secretary of state source, please remember that links can change at any time. Because of HAVA, our National voting legislation, many of the states are updating their systems along with the information contained on their websites, and they will continue to do so.

As each state and territory also has different regulations and procedures, it is very important to read the materials provided by your Secretary of State and local Election Office very carefully, checking to be completely certain that you are using the correct application form, that you have filled it out properly, and that you see that it reaches the designated office by the deadline.

In most cases the state and territorial instructions are simple and clearly indicated. If not, one may need to clarify these concerns with an official at one of the contact numbers given for the appropriate precinct, county, state, or territory. Most will find that their local offices to be very supportive.

In a final check for anything which may have been forgotten, those who are overseas or in the Military might look up the The Federal Government listing of TEN THINGS TO HELP ENSURE YOUR ABSENTEE VOTE IS COUNTED.


State-by-State Listing

States
Instructions

Applications

Local Offices
Alabama
Alaska Absentee and Military/Overseas Vote Voting Offices
Arizona
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Arkansas

Absentee and Military Vote

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California
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Colorado
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Connecticut
Town Clerk
Delaware
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District of Columbia
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Florida
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Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
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Illinois
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Indiana
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Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
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Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
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Mississippi
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Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
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New Hampshire
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New Jersey
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New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
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North Dakota
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Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
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Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
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South Carolina
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South Dakota
Tennessee
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Texas
Utah
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Vermont

Download

Virginia
Washington

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West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Voter Guide

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American Territories


Problems with Computerized Voting

Since the 2000 election many punch-card machines were replaced with computer voting systems. Independent investigators conclude that these systems do not have the paper trail required for a reliable audit. In the systems that were tested, none of the safeguards were able to prevent changes to the authentic tally of votes per candidate. The following websites discuss the issues that must be resolved for computerized voting to be sufficiently protected against voter fraud: http://www.votersunite.org, http://verifiedvoting.org, http://www.invisibleballots.com, http://www.blackboxvoting.org, and http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0307/S00065.htm.

We must insist on voting integrity and the strict enforcement of our voting rights, or we will lose them! Please do not allow any controversy surrounding this issue to discourage, dissuade, or prevent you from voting. The expression of our Constitutional right to vote is needed more than ever to counterbalance the efforts of those who would try to misuse the power of this great Nation.


Whatever You Do, Vote

After checking out the specific paper ballot options available in your area, take a peek at what other places are doing across the Nation, in order to get a sense of the many voting methods available and to consider how folks where you live may also benefit from some of these practices.

Those of you who plan to vote with paper ballots, be sure to order your ballot as soon as possible as we are rapidly approaching the deadlines for all types of early voting. And... if you find this information of use, please feel free to copy it, print it, or pass it along to others.

Whatever you do, be sure to vote November 2, 2004!

 

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Final Count @ 11/17/2004