What Can I Do?

Getting involved doesn’t take much more than just deciding for yourself that Election Integrity is an important matter, that free, honest, open, fair and transparent are the cornerstone of American democracy. Often people think that such issues are “too big,” or ask, “what can one person do?” Here are some thought-starters that can help answer those questions:

What About Lobbying by Not-For-Profits?

Too many activists are under the mistaken impression that educational, charitible or religious organizations can't have a voice in the public policy arena, fearing that such activities will violate Internal Revenue Service regulations. For the most part, many organizations often fail to recognize that Congress intended NFP organizations to be involved in the political process with respect to issue advocacy. In reality, there is a great deal of public policy and election-related work that any charitible or educational organization can do without jeopardizing its nonprofit tax-exempt status.

In an effort to assist the officers and management of not-for-profit organizations (like IBIP) in understanding the extent to which they may freely advocate, we've created A Guide to Lobbying and Elections for Exempt Organizations. This Guide is available for download as a PDF document HERE.

Find Out More. Information is power, and fortunately in this case it’s mostly free. The Web has a wealth of resources with dozens of sites. Google “voting” and you’re on your way! IBIP also provides a short list of top election integrity sites (see separate handout). Find out about registration, early voting, absentee voting, etc. Don’t be concerned that the subject may seem overwhelming at first. Take it a little bit at a time and follow the threads and issues that interest you. You’ll soon become more of an expert than you might have expected.

Write, Call, FAX, E-Mail. Write your elected representatives and tell them you want open, free, honest and fair elections. Don’t know names and addresses, GoTo: Congress.org, enter your ZIP code and you’ll get a list of national elected officials and links to state and local representatives. Pay special attention to Representative Jan Schakowsky (most election issue bills originate in the House), and to House members of the Illinois General Assembly. Along with your local State Rep and Senator, there are seven members of the House Committee on Elections & Campaign Reform. The Chairman is Charles E. Jefferson of Rockford. A list of names, addresses and contacts is available for download in MSWord format HERE.

Contact State and local election officials: Visit their websites and Write, Call, Fax or E-Mail. Tell them you want fair, open honest elections. Below are a couple of sample letters.

Illinois State Board of Elections:
Cook County Clerk (David Orr):
Chicago Board of Election Commissioners:
www.elections.il.gov/
www.voterinfonet.com
www.chicagoelections.com

Not sure who your local election authorities are? To see a list of names and titles, some e-mail addresses and links to those officials with websites, GoTo: Election Authorities Information.

Write a Letter to the Editor. Along with the "big media," don’t overlook small papers and the alternative press, eg. Pioneer Press, the Reader, Evanston Roundtable. Your chances are better with less competition.

Volunteer. Become a Deputy Registrar - help get out the vote. Apply to become an election judge or a poll-watcher.

Join a Group. There’s power in numbers. Find a local citizens' group - or join IBIP.

Participate in an Online Voter Forum. Good active ones are at Black Box Voting and Voters Unite.

Get Your Own Group Together. Meet with your friends and neighbors about the crisis of electronic voting. One way to start a lively discussion is to host a showing of "Votergate" or "Invisible Ballots." Below are some flyers that you can customize.

A letter to the editor is one of the most effective ways to influence your elected officials including Members of Congress. Elected officials pay attention to the media in their districts. If your letter gets published, you can double its effectiveness by sending them a copy along with a note about how important the issue is to you…

You may want to research the basic talking points and facts on the issues you plan to write about. Sometimes you can anticipate letter-worthy news stories such as when the board of elections will be reviewing election procedures, considering new equipment or when election-oriented legislation is introduced. You can pre-write parts of a letter dealing with that topic.

When you see a story or letter that you would like to comment on, write soon! Submitting your letter on the same or next day is usually best for print editions of daily newspapers. Online publications may require even greater speed.

When Writing
  • Know the rules about letters to the editor for the publication you’re writing to. The main things that newspapers usually have requirements for are:
    • Contact information (so they can verify that you wrote the letter)
    • Exclusivity (you can’t send an identical letter to other papers)
    • Maximum length
    • Reference to a recently published article
  • If you have a direct connection with the issue, be sure to say so!
  • There is no perfect structure that will guarantee that your letter will be published, but the basic formula for a letter to the editor is to say what you’re commenting on, point out what’s wrong, follow with your alternative view and/or analysis, and reiterate your point in a short conclusion.
  • Though you may have a lot to say, KEEP IT BRIEF! The paper may shorten your letter to suit its format for that day. The more it has to cut, the less control you have of what gets printed.
  • Your computer has a spelling and grammar check function. Don’t forget to use them.
  • Double check that you have adhered to all the guidelines before submitting your letter. If you don’t follow the paper’s requirements, your letter won’t be published.
  • If possible, send your letter via e-mail, not postal mail. Most newspaper Web sites have a special section for submitting letters via e-mail. Read the policy and follow the newspaper’s instructions to submit your letter.

Here are some flyers, letters and other documents to help you get started. Some are in PDF format for printing and others in MSWord so that you can download them and edit for your own preferences.

The Statement of Purpose/Mission Statement PDF

A list of Resource Links (2 pages) to get people started - print back-to-back. PDF

94th General Assembly - House Committee on Elections and Campaign Reform MSWord

Here is a Sample Letter for Illinois State Legislators in MSWord format that you can customize to fit your own thoughts.

Another sample letter, slightly different wording and designed for enclosure of "Votergate." MSWord.

Here's your own "Getting Involved" information sheet that helps you educate others on how to get started. You can customize these to fit the locale of where you are distributing the sheet. On the back page (2) is the same list as the House Committee on Elections and Campaign Reform. MSWord


About the same size as a bumper sticker (10.0 in X 2.66 in), this is ready to tape in your rear window. The PDF files print nicely on photo paper. We've included the JPEG and GIF versions as well.

Window sign - JPEG
Window sign - GIF
Window sign - 1-up PDF
Window sign - 3-up PDF

 

IBIP Statement of Purpose/Mission Statement Flyer (Includes promo at bottom of page) PDF

IBIP Meeting Flyer - No Date of next meeting - for "permanent" display. PDF

IBIP Sign-up Sheet - for collecting names, addresses and e-mails at meetings PDF

"Votergate" Flyer - Suitable for bulletin boards or shop windows - offers an IBIP moderator for the 35-minute documentary. PDF

A "Votergate" Flyer you can customize for hosting a showing in your own location. MSWord.

"Invisible Ballots" Flyer - Suitable for bulletin boards or shop windows - offers an IBIP moderator for either the 50-minute (recommended) documentary. PDF

An "Invisible Ballots" Flyer you can customize for hosting a showing of your own. MSWord.


Another excellent resource is the Black Box Voting Citizen's Toolkit. This kit contains 20 modules ranging from "Having a Houseparty" and "Organizing Town Meetings" through counting the vote acions like "Becoming an Election Judge" and"Monitoring Voting and Vote Counting." Be sure to check this out for helpful ideas on getting involved. You can view and download or print the entire Citizen's Toolkit here.


Rather than going through all the time and effort to download each of the documents, forms, signs, sample letters and such listed above, we thought it would be easier for you just to get them all in one large file. We wanted to call our file "rob-georgia.zip," but that's already been taken. So here it is: IBIP Starter Kit (917 KB)
You'll need a copy of a compression utility to open the archive. If you don't have one - you can get a FREE evaluation copy of WinZip HERE.





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