12/01/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Protecting your vote using Net technolgies

It's better to prevent voting problems than to try to fix them after the fact.

I'm not talking about "voter fraud," like where nonexistent humans are registered. That's a rarity, and generally a hoax.

Bigger problems usually involve efforts to prevent legitimate voters from voting. For example, voters might be purged from voting rolls illegitimately, or not enough voting machines might be made available.

The Net can be used to protect voters from being disenfranchised in these or other manners.

Notable among these efforts is the Voter Protection Project. It uses a combination of technologies which people can use to provide real-time reporting of problems.

For example, you can call 1-866-our-vote (1-866-687-8683) to alert the project.

They're already seeing a lot of real stories regarding voting issues. Here's one:

Lee, Des Plaines, Illinois

During the 2004 presidential election, Lee went to cast his vote at his polling location and noticed that something was different, there were very few machines. Lee has voted at the same school many times. Normally there are several machines but this time there were very long lines. Lee believes that local election officials placed fewer voting machines in democratic counties. He has heard several news stories that report similar issues taking place across the country. Lee has contacted local officials to alert them to the issue and ensure that there is an adequate number of machines at his polling place come November 4 but he has not received additional information or evidence that the problem has been addressed.

You can use Twitter to report problems at polls or elsewhere in a very public way. Check out the Twitter Vote Report. Check out their voter report map; it displays a Google map of the US along with the icons of people reporting issues. This specific project grew from a TechPresident suggestion by Nancy Scola and Allison Fine a few weeks ago.

Participating in the Twitter Vote Report project are an impressive range of organizations including the Election Protection Coalition,
Rock the Vote, Credo Mobile, Common Cause, Plodt, YouTube, Twittervision, NPR's Social Media Desk, Independence Year Foundation, The Center for Community Change, Student PIRGs, PBS, Video the Vote, Election Suppression Wiki, Women Donors Network, Why Tuesday? and Demos. In addition, Current TV will be using the #votereport information as part of their special election coverage throughout the day.

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