Mid-Terms: Planning is Everything

“I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of “emergency” is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.”

— Dwight D. Eisenhower

With Eisenhower’s sage words in mind, what are you planning for tomorrow’s mid-term elections? If you haven’t voted yet, what will you do to ensure you cast your vote? Don’t have just one plan — the car breaks down, the babysitter gets sick, the weather turns crappy, the dog runs away, pick whatever minor emergency you can imagine because shit happens. Have a Plan A and then a Plan B and a Plan C in place in order to vote.

I’m lucky because I can very nearly crawl to my polling place. I might have to dodge cars on a busy state highway but it’s so close I have no excuse not to vote even if there was a sudden and unexpected blizzard tomorrow.

Do you have kids? Can they manage if you take them to the polling place with you, or do you need a sitter or voting tag team? Can someone wait in the car and play games with the kids while you take turns voting? Do you have a “busy box” at the ready filled with smallish toys or crafts or books to keep youngsters occupied during a wait? I always had one of these in my car, used to put McDonald’s Happy Meal toys in it along with a small box of crayons and tiny boxes of LEGOs — they were perfect for waiting in restaurants let alone waiting in long lines.

What about school-age kids — will someone else pick them up or watch them after school, or can they go to the polls with you? I always took mine until they were old enough to stay at home; I wanted them to see that voting was a regular, ordinary thing people should do and that it was easy. It might be a different story for folks who live where lines are long and tedious, though.

Will your pets keep another hour or more if you need to wait in line that long? Can a neighbor walk/feed/water them for you? Can you offer to watch your neighbors’ kids or pets? That’s what I’ll be doing for a poll worker tomorrow, caring for an elderly pet which can’t be left alone. It’s a small price to ensure democracy works here in my backyard.

How about family in eldercare and any special needs folks? Will they be okay while you take the time to vote?

Yeah, yeah, you’ve got it all covered, you say. Great. Some people will have difficulty tomorrow; we’ve all heard and read myriad stories about voter suppression. If you’re all set, can you fight back against suppression and help someone else who needs a ride to the polls? Call your local political party office and ask if they need help providing rides. You could make a critical difference in places like Calvert County, Maryland, where GOP commissioners attempted to shut down public transportation for the day. Who knows what other “emergencies” might cause transportation problems for voters?

Can you offer water to people who have to stand in line in the heat to vote? What about calling in a pizza at Pizza to the Polls if you learn of a long line near you?

And what about your own voter information — your polling place, what time it opens and closes, what’s on the ballot? Have you confirmed those with your Secretary of State’s or county clerk’s office? Do NOT trust random phone calls or text messages to tell you where to vote. I’ve already gotten a bad phone call today claiming political party affiliation telling me my polling location is in another town and giving me the wrong candidates’ names. There will be a lot of these kind of monkeyshines and hoaxes over the next 24 hours. Be skeptical and make sure your family and friends are likewise savvy about their polling place and ballot.

AND TELL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS NOT TO BLINDLY TRUST FACEBOOK, TWITTER, OR OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA ABOUT THE POLLS. Just like that bad phone call I got, there will be bad posts online, many with disinformation and misinformation about poll opening and closing times, many with information intended to suppress voter turnout.

Media reports about busy polling places and long lines worked to suppress Remain voters during the Brexit referendum. Ignore the horse race type election news and simply commit to voting and supporting other voters.

Still want election news but don’t want to feed personal information to suspect advertisers? Try Firefox’s Election Bundle if you haven’t already.

DailyKos Elections has a handy colored map showing poll closing times (all noted in Eastern time zone). Check their site for election news and resources, too.

Ballotpedia also has links to poll closing times — you can look yours up if you haven’t already checked with your Secretary of State’s or county clerk’s office.

Whatever you do, do NOT do this. We’ll regret it if you do.

No manicure will fix that planning failure.

Treat this as an open thread with emphasis on election-related content.

54 replies
  1. Ed Walker says:

    I voted today in downtown Chicago. The line wsa two blocks long, but people were friendly and the weather was mild, and the staff was diligent and helpful. We tried to vote yesterday but the line was a block long and it was raining and chilly at my nearby library. I failed to note an eye doctor appointment on my calendar and I knew I couldn’t vote after my eyes are dilated, so we had no choice but yesterday or today, and stood in line as a result.

    So yes. Make a plan.

    • Rayne says:

      Glad you’ve gotten voting out of the way. We don’t have early voting here in Michigan, only absentee balloting with an appropriate excuse. There will surely be locations that are swamped tomorrow, same as in 2016 and maybe even worse since the entire ticket from governor to state legislature is up for grabs and trending blue.

      I’ll be the one in line with extra tissues, granola bars, hard candy and gum in my purse and an extra external power pack for an Android device. LOL

      ADD: Jesus H. Christ, the bullshit from GOP morons is pyroclastic.

      Absentee balloting is way up here, especially in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The weather there through the last half of October was atrocious.

  2. Trip says:

    Good write-up Rayne.

    Absentee ballot a little while back, now I have to plan how not to go insane tomorrow waiting for results, (while also pestering friends to go vote).

  3. DrFunguy says:

    Thanks for the excellent advice.

    I voted by email last week and got a confirmation from the County.

    I’m an ‘overseas’ voter in Canada.

    “Vote early and often!”
    -variously attributed to Richard M. Daley, Al Capone and William Hale Thompson, (mayor from 1915-1923 and 1931-1935)

  4. Peterr says:

    Election Day planning was well in hand, but car problems threw a wrench into them about an hour ago. We’ll make it work, but we’ve got to make due with one vehicle in the morning while the other is being fixed.

    Around here, many of the local polling places are schools, and the school districts made election day a staff work day. With all the school security upgrades, they didn’t want to unlock all the doors and have people wandering in and out of the school with all the kids around, so this was their work-around. If nothing else, it makes parking much much easier for the voters.

  5. BobCon says:

    Bring a couple of old umbrellas to hand out if it’s raining in case the lines are outside are long, and ask that the recipients pass them on.when they’re done.

    If you’re bringing a spare battery charger, bring an extra long cord so you can share if someone else’s juice is low.

    Be prepared to document anything that is hinkey — bring pen and paper if you can’t do it on your phone. Who’s involved, what’s happening, when it happened, and where specifically — note any official’s names, ID #s on devices, etc. Do your best imitation of Jim Comey after meeting with Trump and write down supporting details to add to the validity of your account if needed..

  6. Eureka says:

    I’ll post my plan a little later, as I plan to not only vote but also clean up some illegal campaigning within the limits of my polling place, and I am interested in feedback.  I didn’t do this immediately in 2016 because we had real vote suppression problems and a swamped county BOE for prolonged periods continuing after the election.  Plus Jill Stein’s recount suit.  But I digress- for now I just wanted to add:

    After you get your contingency plans in place to get to the polls and vote, Ballotpedia will also have your statewide ballot measures listed, if any.  In addition, you may or may not have local ballot measures, which would be on your county website under ‘voting information’ or something like that, then listed by municipality or district.  They would be shown on a ‘sample ballot’ for your area.

    The single easiest way I can think of to find these would be to search for your sample ballot, by  ~ (name of your county) county sample ballot~ which should lead you to the relevant links.

    We have a history of trickily-worded ballot measures here, that can mean the opposite of what they seem to be saying.  So if I got to the polls and found ballot measures to my surprise, I would personally just vote for my candidates and skip or abstain on the ballot measures if I weren’t sure what was up.

    Sorry I have a splitting headache- I hope this is clear enough.  Anyone with better info, have at it–

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for the reminder about ballot initiatives. I had to remind my son just this past week to check the wording very carefully on ours here in Michigan because I hadn’t read them yet and they are often worded in a way to provoke a certain response at the polls.

      I was taught that people come out to vote NO more often than YES on controversial issues, a technique used to encourage conservative swing voters with considerable success here in Michigan during 2006 mid-terms when affirmative action was on the ballot alongside initiatives for marriage equality and dove hunting regulations. It worked then to end race-based admission criteria hurting minority student levels for more than six years after the vote.

      But…this year’s three state-wide ballot initiatives are strangely straightforward. YES means support. I feel a little twitchy about it, being deservedly skeptical and cynical in the age of Trump.

      • Eureka says:

        And to make explicit for inexperienced voters, these things can be called ballot ‘initiatives,’ ‘measures,’ ‘propositions,’ or simply ‘questions.’  In PA they end up on the ballot as “Questions;”  in the news coverage they are usually called by one of the other names (I can’t think of additional jargon names right now).  Fortunately, Ballotpedia has links to news items about these measures so you can learn more.

        Yes (and I did laugh), straightforward IS suspicious.  I was even suspicious that we have none this year.  They can be confusing even when Yes means support.  We had one on judicial retirement age where the intent was to raise the age from 70 to 75, but the phrasing did not refer to an extant retirement age or that anything was being raised.  So it came across as ~’do you want judges to have a retirement age (period).  Polling showed support widely varied depending upon how the Q was phrased.  And this was in the aftermath of internecine “Pennsylvania porngate” warfare.

    • Eureka says:

      OK.  So in PA we have (only) a ten-foot rule prohibiting campaign materials from the polling place.  But ratfuckers gonna ratfuck within that ten-foot boundary.  To be clear, it would be wrong for any party to violate these rules, but I have only observed the one to do so.

      We vote in the back of a church.  There’s a vestibule, then a short entrywayish passageway, then the door to the polls.  Normally, the campaign reps stand outdoors, ten feet from the entrance to the vestibule.  When it is raining, as is scheduled for tomorrow, they pack into the vestibule and you have to go through the gauntlet.  I’ve only seen Rs foist (R, obvi) ballots (or any campaign literature), including in the vestibule.

      In 2016 one of them took it up a notch and placed a pile of said R ballots inside/near the polling room door.  I didn’t have a camera but documented and saved examples with the plan to file a complaint, but never did.  Because 2016.

      So I’m not sure what will happen tomorrow, but anticipating that it will be the same or worse, I have my measuring tape out (lol, husband will love that one) and a plan to address it.  I meant to go measure ahead of time but alas… and really maybe I should skip the tape, go by eyeballed distance, and just let them figure it out.

      Given the layout of the entrance, it took me a bit of research to get to the fine print that it is the ‘door to the polling room’ that counts as the start of ten feet.  But from a pragmatic standpoint, I do note that the campaigners have traditionally considered ‘outdoors’ ten feet away from the entrance to the building via vestibule to be where they should place themselves and their pamphlets.

      So I will observe carefully as I enter, vote, then deal with this afterwards.  Would be a lovely surprise if the situation had cured itself.

    • harpie says:

      Eureka and Rayne,

      Thanks for the Tab-Anxiety advice a couple of weeks back…has not yet been implemented…


      Still Anxious, But Hanging In

  7. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    One of the few advantages of living in the People’s Republic of the District of Columbia is early voting, in which I participated last week. The downside is that there’s usually nothing/nobody worth voting for. When the electorate does rise up against the excesses of the land development crowd (the major moneyed local group) and passes a referendum or some such, their bought and paid for political flunkies overturn it forthwith.

    One question that has never been resolved for me is that of ballot tampering–futzing around with the software in voting machines to change results. I’m thoroughly convinced that the 2000 election was a test run for this technique and lost Gore the election. It wasn’t possible to overcome the odds in 2008 nor 2012 favoring the Democrats over the Republicans. But it was in 2016–with much more highly-sophisticated weaponry than eight years prior.

  8. obsessed says:

    I’ve never missed an election, but 50% of the country always does. The solution would be to do what Google did with its launch of StreetView. They filmed and coded one single small city, worked out the bugs and moved on. We need to pick one single precinct, get some funding and achieve 90%+ turnout in that precinct. Then write a book or roadmap as to how it was done. If the election’s turnout statistics proved that the precinct got this rate of turnout, it would go viral in the progressive movement, and needless to say, if we could achieve even 70%, it would be the end of the GOP as we know it.

  9. Bonnie says:

    We vote by mail in the State of Washington; and, normally my ballot would have been mailed back long before now.  However, this has not been a normal year for me; so, I just finished voting today.  But, I was determined not to let cancer dictate my life.  I am recovering from treatment; won’t know for awhile if I am cancer-free.  However, I hope this will inspire others to vote even if they are not feeling well because I feel so good having voted today.  I plan to vote in 2020, too.

    • Rayne says:

      Glad voting is one less stressor for you, fingers crossed you’ll have only good news ahead. My kid hasn’t received his absentee ballot in time, will end up with a mad chase today to vote. At least at his age and his health it’s not a big deal.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Also Washington, also mail-in ballot.  Our state Voter Guide is a stellar example of good governance, and allows for a leisurely glass of wine while perusing the ‘for/against’ statements for each ballot item.

      So glad you are able to get treatment, Bonnie — this election, I could easily describe myself in all kinds of ways, but between a pre-existing condition and horrific cost increases, ‘health care voter’ tops my list. Take it easy, and best of luck to you.

      Having voted last week, my focus later today will be on the munchies prep for this evening’s Election Porn extravaganza.

  10. mhender says:

    Did early voting on Friday Oct 26 in Minnesota. Straight democratic and hoping for more of the same from many more.

  11. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I’m planning for the GOP / Guccifer 2.0 “rigged election!” aftermath. I think that’s a plan worth making. When there’s a non-zero chance that the appropriate reaction is Maidan, you should prepare accordingly.

  12. pdaly says:

    I participated in early voting last week (here in Massachusetts). It’s a relief to know I don’t have to rush home in traffic tomorrow to the polls.  Hoping the early votes are safely guarded as the votes are not released from their sealed envelopes until Tuesday when Election Day begins.

  13. Eureka says:

    Oh, forgot too- that pizza to the polls twitter account nearly brought me to schmaltzy patriotic tears last night, sending pizzas to the long FL lines, happy cat dancing in delight at sending out more pizzas.  (Here’s one from today.)

    Your ‘monkeyshines’ reference brought me a smile too, delightful word for such bad hoaxiness.

  14. Tommy D Cosmology says:

    Voted absentee in St. Louis, and heading to the National League of Cities convention in LA with my wife. Anyone else going? It will be interesting this year, to say the least. My wife met VP Biden last time she went.

    • Palli says:

      An upcoming elections process battle is brewing particularly affecting absentee ballots: the signature match. Several state have already decided to discard many absentee ballots after “determining” signatures on the outside of envelopes do not match signatures from previous election roll books.

      Signature calligraphy changes…with age, with intent and personal whim. This is an inherent visual problem and easily preverted politically. Insignificant dis-similarities can mean a ballot is never even opened to be counted. Our culture is, on the whole, woefully illiterate visually.

      As if we didn’t have enough worries with electronic voting tabulati

      Signature calligraphy changes…with age, with intent and personal whim. This is an inherent visual problem and easily preverted politically. Insignificant dis-similarities can mean a ballot is never even opened to be counted. Our culture is, on the whole, woefully illiterate visually.

  15. APB IV says:

    Lucky enough to live in a sunny warm state w early voting but like most of the world too bust dealing w “life ish” to have voted yet.

    Currently intoxicated, deadline to file an answer to an unlawful detainer is tomorrow, plus have mad shit at work to do & gotta be there in four hours. Oh also need to plan date night.

    Know what my first priority is tomorrow? Not voting. Uz that’s a block and a half away, and there’s a killer donut store halfway between my pad & my voting booth.

    1) donuts – how many depends on that awkward relationship between how much I can afford dm&hiw much can I carry.
    2) smile at the hot voters
    4) see # 2 abive
    5) everything else

  16. Trip says:

    ACLU ‏Verified account @ACLU 1

    Being struck by lightning is more common than voter impersonation fraud. Voter intimidation is also incredibly rare, but one way to recognize it is the threat of law enforcement at the polls. If you witness voter intimidation, call 866-OUR-VOTE.

  17. Pete says:

    Thanks for doing this Rayne.  I agree that Words Cut Deeper Than Swords (where’s the Game of Thrones font).

    Got caught up in a Twitter thread (positive actually) that included Oregon as a good starting place for how voting rights could be administered and elections carried out in a state.

    Since I am a Floridian (of hanging chad notoriety) circa 2000 and don’t know squat about Oregon’s methods other than what I read, I thought maybe someone who is from Oregon or knows much more than I do might chime in.

    It’s probably not perfect for all potential voters, but it seems like a start at least.  I know that I am going to start blasting Andrew Gillum (Gawd he has to beat DeSantis) and Florida’s next Sec of State.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Long tradition of that.  Its origins are similar to LA’s in that it started as a white bastion free of people of color and unions – barring a few Native Americans and Wobblies.  Its xenophobia c. 1900-1930 was amazing, the polar opposite of Seattle (as was true of west-central and far eastern Washington state.)

        The relative dominance of progressives, whom libertarians like to call “tree huggers,” (riffing off their environmentalism vs. clearcutting) is more recent but entirely welcome.  It illustrates the idea that passions never sleep and that gains – Social Security and Medicare – have to be not just protected, but expanded, because there’s always the risk of backsliding in the toing and froing of democracy.

  18. cat herder says:

    Anybody have tips for what to say in a last minute appeal to a zero-information voter who votes Republican just out of habit or instinct? Succinct and to the point?

    • Rayne says:

      Do you like health care? Vote Dem for state and federal offices.

      Do you like your Social Security and Medicare into which you paid over your lifetime? Vote Dem for federal offices.

      Do you like checks and balances on power? Prevent single-party control by electing Dems for state and federal offices.

  19. kreativekkj-Kathy Johnson says:

    I live in Portland, Oregon and I voted at my kitchen table while sipping a cup of  hot tea and dropped my vote in a box at the library! We have mail-in ballots that are sent to our homes. Every state should have this voting system. It saves spending tons of money on new systems. We have a paper trail that can’t be hacked. They probably need to ensure the final tabulation computers, but that’s a lot less fuss than individual voting machines. If your state allows private citizens to get  petitions on your ballot – do it! If not, find another way to get it on the ballot.

  20. Legonaut says:

    Voted in the rain this morning (Grand Rapids, Precinct 5 – Hi, Marcy! :-) ).  Posted area for poll watchers & press, but it was thankfully empty.  (Probably too predictably red to attract that kind of attention; I usually feel like I imagine missionaries must feel, all ‘stranger in a strange land’.)

    Thanks for the post, Rayne!

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for voting! Yeah, definitely sloppy weather in MI this morning. Lansing area had power outages, not clear if it affected voting. I will vote whenever my other kid gets here later, probably around 5pm so I can experience the rush hour crowd. Should be windy but not rainy by then.

  21. Lisa says:

    I am in a liberal Maryland county. There was no wait to vote and I was very pleased to see about  6 middle schoolers helping to usher people from table to table and hand out “I Voted” stickers. The election monitors said it had been steady all day. Nothing left but the waiting….

  22. orionATL says:

    in the years i have lived here i have never before seen georgia democrat candidates work together and support each other top to bottom like i have seen this year.  it never hurts to have a political pro as your leader; famous names and fancy rhetoric just don’t cut it.

    as for voters, the most interesting thing i have observed with voters taking the little wallet cards with barcode that tells how to register, where you go to vote, etc., is the determination on their faces  and the resolve in their voices when they say they are going to vote. they will this year.  i can’t wait.

    screw the media’s pessimism and their fear and adulation of the shrinking trump hordes.

    • Trip says:

      Thanks for this @orion. There are already people stating Trump will win a second term. Fuck that noise today.

  23. orionATL says:

    it was a good night for democrats – a very good night. alas, it was not the night that crushed the presidential sham-and-bluster act, but it was a good start toward that goal.

    of long term importance is winning control of the u.s. house of representatives and winning a number of governorships. this latter may prove extremely important when redistricting, aka, gerrymandering occurs after the 2020 census (assuming that wilbur, trump’s secretary of commerce, does not succeed in removing indians, blacks, hispanics, and asians from the census).

    what i found extremely disappointing was the failure of voters in florida to punish gubernatorial candidate ron desantis, in tennessee to reject  marsha blackburn, to re-elect claire macaskill in favor of josh hawley a tom cotton clone and federalist society good-old-boy. we do do not need more people like hawley in government.  heidi heitenkamp’s defeat will beca blackmark on north dakota for a long while. not that the voters there in there frenzy of loyalty care now  but they will in time. their economy (soy beans and oil) is too unstable not to.

    it is hard to understand how voters can be as loyal to our president-in-name and to the republican party as they are in so many states and fail to see that neither of these stand for good-government or decency  in politics.

    personally, the candidate in georgia who counted the most to me, a women who spoke out unambiguously about serial republican cuts in education spending over a decade, about medical costs, medicare and medicaid, about women’s right to decide on abortion,  and about vote suppression, won by 10 points over an entrenched republican state senator who had done favors for every jusisdiction in his district, but few favors for the polity itself.

    georgia democrats now have the first cohesive party i have seen in my time here.

    [FYI I trashed your duplicate of this comment. /~Rayne]

    • orionATL says:

      thanks, rayne. after staring at the damn thing a couple of times i realized i’d put an “@” where it had no business being. sometimes i wonder what the ….. :)

    • orionATL says:

      in a not-noted, but truely amazing victory in georgia congressional district 6, gun control advocate lucy mcbath beat (very short term) incumbent karen handel by almost 3000 votes out of 315k [mcbath=159,268 and handel=156,396].

      handel had beaten dem jon osoff in june, a 2017 runoff to replace trump hhs appointee tom price who had one that district 6 seat by about 100k votes for years.

      will it hold up with a ruthless politician and gubernatorial candidate, brian kemp in power, who was allowed to retain his control over voting and counting as georgia secretary of state? stay tuned.

      are things changing? we can hope. organization, team work and planning go a long way to assuring a victory – a favorable wind at your back never hurts either.

  24. bmaz says:

    Orion – I truly hope that is right. I may need another couple of days to really see the progress, though I know it was made. GA is  tough. So too are FL and where I am in AZ. Just when you think they may have turned a corner, it has not yet happened.

    It is getting better, but damn, still further to go than I had hoped.

    • orionATL says:


      yeah. i deliberately adopted a positive tone, but to tell the truth i am still hungry and unsatisfied – pleased by democratic victories in inhospitable environments, but at the same time both impressed by and contemptuous of the loyalty trump inspires. that loyalty is oblivious to good governing and to our political customs and immensely damaging to the functioning of our governments. it more than a little telling that the republicans used the image of the mob in their final ads and speeches. this is the tactic they often use, that of labelling the opposition with a derogatory characteristic that they well know actually characterizes their own political activities.

      i have been following sisema and mcsally, mostly since mcsally decided to use the treason ied. i will say that “hardball” does not even begin to properly describe republican political tactics when a win is on the line. mostly it’s just old-fashioned racist southern politics broughtbup to date.

      i look at the three southern border states – arizona (where one of my sons lived), texas, and florida (where i have lived) – as states with a lot of immigration of older people from northern states. i don’t know how accurate that actually is, but it allows me to explain how a blatant corporate crook like rick scott or an idiot like greg abbott can be repeatedly elected and how the ghosts of ann richards and barry goldwater hover in despair and disbelief.

      maybe climate change will change all that and send waves of immigrants northward :) .

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