Get Out (of) the Vote

Old political jape holds that Election Day is being split across two separate days.

Claim: Election Day is being split across two separate days this year.

false

Example: [Collected via e-mail, October 2008]

New Election Day procedures

Historically, Election Day in the U.S. is always the first Tuesday, following the first Monday, of November. That date would be Tuesday, November 4 in the year 2008. But with the voter turnout expected to be historically high, given the nature of this Presidential election, apparently there is a change taking place in this year's procedure.

Voting will take place over two days instead of just one. Everyone that appears at the polls Tuesday, November 4, 2008, will only be allowed to vote for Republican Party candidates. If you want to vote for a Democratic Party candidate, or a split party ticket, you are to appear at the polls on Wednesday, November 5, 2008. This is to eliminate long lines and delays in voting.

For some reason this procedural change has not been covered very well so far by the media. But I'm sure it will get more coverage as we get closer to Election Day(s). So that all of our votes can count, please pass this along to everyone that you think may want to vote for any Democratic Party candidates, including Barack Obama.

See you at the polls!

Origin:The example reproduced above is another example of political humor that is updated and recycled every election year, a jape first chronicled back in 2000:

Presidential Election Announcement

Due to an anticipated voter turnout much larger than originally expected, the polling facilities may not be able to handle the load all at once. Therefore,

Republicans and Independents are requested to vote on Tuesday, November 7.

The Democrats will vote on Wednesday, November 8.

Please pass this message along and help us to make sure that nobody gets left out and everything will run smoothly with this minor change.

Be sure to vote!!! Know where your voting place is near you!!

2000 Presidental Election Commission

The premise is, of course, that tricking supporters of one party into voting on the "second" election day will nullify their ballots, because they will be cast too late to be accepted and counted.

This form of humor moved closer to the "dirty tricks" column than the "funny jokes" column in late October 2008, when it was circulated in Virginia on fliers bearing the name and logo of the Virginia State Board of Elections as well as the logo of the Commonwealth of Virginia:

The "joke" reared its ugly head again in 2016, when Mansfield, George, mayor Jefferson Riley posted it to his Facebook page (with no disclaimer or other indicator it was intended as humor):

riley

 

Riley's action prompted predictably angry responses:

[Rliey] said it was a joke. Others thought it was out of line.

“Sorry,” Nancy Bush wrote in a Twitter post. “May have been meant as a joke but a stupid and irresponsible one.”

On social media, some slammed Riley, while others defended him.

“A Georgia mayor giving out incorrect voting info without a disclaimer,” Twitter user @onestarr23 wrote. “Wooooow.”

“How could you see this as anything other than a joke,” user @Logan__Swartz wrote in a post.

Riley said he wasn’t trying to be ugly.

“People take things so seriously,” he [said]. “You can’t joke about anything anymore — especially on social media.”

Also, a group called the Democratic Coalition against Trump said it has filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice over the post.

“While Mayor Riley seems to think his actions were a joke, it is clear that they were not. As a public official, you have the obligation to provide your constituents with correct information, not with partisan nonsense,” said Scott Dworkin, senior director of the group. “Attempting to prevent voters from voting by tricking them goes against the Voting Rights Act, plain and simple.”

In Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, someone put up flyers on 8 November 2016 with the following, familiar misinformation:

Due to the ending of Daylight Savings Time and the anticipated large voter turnout, the 2016 Election will be split into 2 days.

Republicans will be voting on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

Democrats will be voting on Wednesday, November 9, 2016.

Independents can choose to vote on either day.

Of course, Election Day in 2016 is Tuesday, November 8, for everyone. If you haven't already taken advantage of some alternative form of casting your ballot (e.g., voting ahead of Election Day in a locale that allows for early voting, sending in an absentee ballot, voting by mail) and you plan to vote at a polling place, you need to turn out on Election Day — showing up on November 9 won't work. Although this item may seem like a bit of obvious and frivolous election year humor, it's bound to fool or confuse some people, and when it made the rounds of the Internet as far back as 2000, officials started making grumbling noises about seeking prosecutions for voter fraud.  

The old Chicago aphorism says to "vote early and vote often." The part about voting early, at least, is good advice: If you haven't already cast a ballot, make sure you show up at the polls on Tuesday, November 8, not some other day — no matter which party you're voting for.

Last updated: 08 November 2016

Originally published: 31 October 2000

sources:

Walker, Julian.   "Phony Flier Says Virginians Vote on Different Days."
    The Virginian-Pilot.   28 October 2008.

Burns, Steve.   "Georgia Mayor Creates Firestorm with Election Day Post."
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   8 November 2016.



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