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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 April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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