FYI, Here is an example of how to help a voter at a polling place in Northern Virginia. This article was written by Dr. Vinh from Connecticut. On Friday October 26, 2012 I took 3 Vietnamese American Seniors (2 women and one man) to do early voting at the Police Station in the Mason district. They were educated speaking some English, two of them had worked for Americans in Saigon before. I helped them fill out the paper work and started to explain to them on how to vote using a paper diagram put up in the hall. The Vietnamese male veteran (in his 80s) suddenly left and went straight to the polls thinking he could swing it by himself. A minute later, he came back to our group asking for help since he was confused not sure how to vote. I then explained the diagram in detail to all three of them. A local polls worker asked me whether I wanted to help all these 3 seniors right at the voter’s booth. If yes, they would have to request my assistance in writing. I was hesitant since I was unsure of how the Virginia’s voting rules worked and thought the best way for me was to explain the details to the seniors on the paper ballot instead of being kicked out due to my non-residency status. However, the seniors looked so helpless and told me they would be totally lost without me that I decided to help them fill out the request forms. The request form asked me to fill out my name and address. I gave my name and address in Greenwich, CT that could be checked against my driver’s license. The polls worker didn’t ask for my id. We decided that I would first go in with the Vietnamese male veteran. I was very apprehensive while waiting for the polls worker’s approval. I was relieved to see him approve our forms. I went through the same process with the other 2 female voters. I was glad to be there with them. I found the voting ballot not that user friendly even for an experienced voter like myself who haven’t missed a single vote since I became a citizen. In Connecticut, the candidates’ names were written out under columns of Democrats, Republicans, etc…The names of the President and Vice President were separated, only one name per line. One can go in and check all names under one party leaving less margin for error. In CT, I was asked only to present my driver’s license or some photo id to validate my name against the Checker’s book with my name and signature already on it. On the Virginia ballot, the presidential and vice presidential names from a given party were in a certain box with the D notation right under (or above) the Mitt R/Ryan box. Kaine was in another box under the Senate column and Moran another one under the House column. Even when I showed the voters the mechanics to vote, they did a mistake a couple of times, they hit R thinking they had hit D, and sometimes the screen froze. At those moments, I had to call the polls worker to show us how to correct things. The polls worker told me that I could literally take the marker and hit whatever the voterwanted me to do since I already got their written permission. Things went faster that way but I was with my last voter then. So I spent a lot of time with these 3 voters. This showed me that we will really need voter assistance on the election day. These 3 seniors became my newly adopted parents. Their names are Nguyen Thai Cuong and wife Nguyen thi Bach and Le thi Sam. They live a couple of blocks away from Eden Center. I had reminded them to get their ID card ready before I picked them up to visit our campaign office in Falls Church and then going to vote at the station in Annandale. They were so loving and affectionate and had promised me to give out my article on how I became a Democrat and voted for Obama to their friends and relatives. They never voted before even though they have been citizens for over a decade. They voted for President Obama since they believe strongly in him this time. I called my mom in New York and let her talk with my 3 “new parents” in Falls Church. Mom told me that she was very concerned about this tight race. I assured her that we’re working very hard for President Obama’s victory and she needs to vote on Election Day with all my siblings. This morning I went to a senior center where some people had expressed interest in doing absentee ballot. They had very little knowledge on the process. Furthermore, I had to stress that they needed to have their ID voting cards that must have been sent to them by mail. I’ve been encouraging people to go voting early to avoid traffic and potential complications. If I may suggest, I could help visiting different polls sites in our district to help Obama-leaning Vietnamese to vote smoothly on Election Day. Since my assistance form had passed the screening process in the Mason district, I hope it would work at others. I recommend that you urge Vietnamese Americans to vote early if they can. Let me take this opportunity to suggest that the Democratic party keep this get-out-to vote efforts alive after the election not only among Vietnamese Americans but in all communities to get us prepared for upcoming elections. The efforts in reaching out to Vietnamese voters are much deeper this time and have given us an important “civic/political infrastructure” to ensure that future generations of Vietnamese Americans will remain loyal to the Democrats’ core values. I’m so pleased to see a new group of Vietnamese from all ages and different walks of life to get more involved in the voting process. It’s upon us to build a cohesive network to keep them energized. When I was interviewed by a local Vietnamese radio station at Eden Center last Sunday, I was told that a new Obama campaign office just opened next door. When I visited that office, it turned out to be an independent group called “Jobs Now for Virginia” supporting President Obama. I thought a similar group could work on registering voters for Democrats in all communities nationwide to get us ready four years from now. BTW, please remind voters to bring their glasses besides their new voting ID cards. [caption id="attachment_890" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Cuong, Bach and Sam filling out voter assistance forms requesting Vinh's help at voting site on Oct 26, 2012"]Cuong, Bach and Sam filling out voter assistance forms requesting Vinh's help at voting site[/caption]


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