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Plan For A Crazy Election Day

Plan For A Crazy Election Day

    If you’re living in the U.S, today’s Election Day. And it’s going to be crazy. Twenty-five percent of eligible voters have already turned in their ballots and just about every voting precinct is expecting record turnouts. That means long lines for voters, as well as a pretty high potential for something to go wrong. I’ve got a couple of tips for straightening out any problems you might run in to.

    Keep an eye on the voting machines

    Plenty of precincts have already reported problems with their voting machines. Last week, CNN reported on only a few examples:

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    “We’re having problems with the poll machines,” a voter in Jacksonville, Florida, told the CNN Voter Hotline. “They’re not aligned correctly, so you’re not sure about which candidate you’re voting for, so they said they brought in 10 new machines as backup machines, but they’ve corrected the issue.”

    Even if your voting machine isn’t working, though, you still have the right to cast your ballot. If it incorrectly records your ballot, call an election judge over immediately. Depending on the state you’re voting in, you should be able to cast a paper ballot if there’s a problem with your voting machine. You may have to ask specifically for that paper ballot, though: overworked volunteer poll workers may not remember to offer it, unfortunately.

    Take your driver’s license with you

    If you’ve moved or changed your information in any way and have not updated your registration, you’ll still probably be able to vote. However, you’ll need to show your driver’s license (depending on precinct) in order to confirm your new information. The same goes if you’re an ‘inactive’ voter. If you haven’t voted in the past couple of years, you will probably have to confirm your status as a registered voter with an election judge. Depending on the circumstances, you may be asked to use a provisional ballot rather than a voting machine.

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    Plan for a wait

    Most counties are advising voters that, no matter what time they’re planning to vote at, they should expect delays. The best time for voting is usually during the late morning or mid-afternoon — avoiding the times when those voters who have to be back to work by a certain time will be voting. If you fall into that category and are planning to vote during your lunch hour or before work, it might be worth letting your boss know that you might be a few minutes (or hours behind).

    Get in before polls close

    In most precincts, as long as you are inside the polling place and in line before the polls close, you will still be able to vote no matter what time you actually get a ballot. If your polling place is running behind, you don’t need to worry about your vote being counted as long as you’re actually in the polling place before the end of voting hours, no matter what urban myths to the contrary state.

    Double check your polling place ahead of time

    Even if you have a voter registration card, go ahead and double check your voting location. I work as an election judge, and during the primary we had to send a lot of voters to a different polling place because of a precinct change. There was even one family who wound up driving to three different polling places because of such a mix up. Google has a pretty reliable map that will locate your polling place based on your address, but if you’re at all unsure you can call your county’s board of elections for confirmation.

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    Check on your polling place’s wait

    A new site, Twitter Vote Report, is coordinating reports of waits and problems at polling places across the country. You can check their website before heading to vote to see if anyone’s Twittered from your polling place. You can also add your own comments through Twitter, the site’s iPhone app, a text message or a good old-fashioned phone call. Check out Twitter Vote Report for more information.

    Know what’s allowed in the polling place

    There are a couple of things that can actually get you thrown out of a polling place. While you can wear clothing, pins, etc. that promote one candidate or the other, you can’t ‘electioneer’ in the polling place. You can’t promote a candidate verbally to other voters. Most precincts are pretty serious about enforcing this rule. This year, I expect most precincts to handle electioneering — or really any hanging around of any kind — pretty severely. If you’ve already voted, you’ll be asked to leave immediately. In part, this year, it will be an issue of poll workers trying to keep the lines moving.

    Read up on your choices

    Odds are good that you already have a sample ballot, listing out everything from the Presidential candidates down to the local school board. I don’t know about you, but there’s a couple of candidates on my ballot who’s names I had never heard of before finding them in the running for a local election. There won’t be any other information on these candidates in your voting booth — so it’s worth your while to at least Google each of those names and try to make up your mind ahead of time.

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    Be nice to your poll workers

    I’m an election judge. We may only work one or two days every couple of years, but trust me when I say that those can be the hardest days you can imagine. I promise that we aren’t out to change the results of the election, make it impossible for you to vote or anything like that, so please, give us the benefit of the doubt if something goes wrong.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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