As a public service before Election Day, I am providing a few last-minute tips to help the big day go smoothly.
• For any potential voters out there who still can’t decide who deserves their votes and don’t know where to turn for objective information about candidates, I’d recommend Project Vote Smart. The nonpartisan group operates a website (votesmart.org) with a treasure trove of free, factual and unbiased information about federal and state candidates.
The site includes biographical information, voting records, issue positions, speeches, ratings by interest groups and campaign finance data, including what groups are financially supporting candidates. Votesmart.org can tell you, for instance, that U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has a lifetime rating of 9 percent from the League of Conservation Voters and 82 percent from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, compared with 95 percent from the league and 24 percent from the chamber for Democratic challenger Russ Feingold.
• For people who want to vote but are worried about how they’re going to get to the polls on Election Day, Common Cause in Wisconsin has put together an exhaustive list of organizations across the state offering free rides to polling sites. A link to the list, which includes several counties in west-central Wisconsin, is available on the group’s website at commoncausewisconsin.org.
While a few other providers are listed, the Menomonie-based Center for Independent Living for Western Wisconsin is offering free rides to the polls for veterans, the elderly and voters with disabilities in Eau Claire, Dunn, Chippewa, Barron, Pepin, Pierce, Rusk and St. Croix counties in this region. To line up a ride, individuals are asked to call the organization a day ahead at 800-228-3287.
• Wisconsin voters are reminded this is the first presidential election in which they need to show a photo ID to cast a ballot. Among acceptable forms of ID include a Wisconsin driver’s license, a Wisconsin identification card, a veteran or military ID card, a U.S. passport, a tribal ID, a certificate of naturalization issued within the last two years and a college photo ID plus proof of enrollment.
More information about the photo ID requirement, how to obtain valid photo IDs and documents needed to register to vote are available at commoncausewisconsin.org or bringitwisconsin.com.
• Voters can find their polling place and see what’s on their ballot at myvote.wi.gov.
• If voters run into problems on Election Day, Common Cause also is partnering with the nonpartisan Election Protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, to provide "guidance, information and help to any American, regardless of who that voter is casting a ballot for." Election Protection’s legal volunteers are available to assist voters with any questions or problems, no matter how simple or complex. Voters may call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) toll-free with any questions or issues that arise. Spanish-speaking voters may seek assistance through the 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682) hotline.
So no excuses. Please exercise your right to vote.