election 2016

A message to readers who are Trump supporters

I think you have made a terrible mistake with your vote — and you are still very much welcome here. There are no prerequisites for reading my blog, and I welcome people who disagree with me even about matters of life and death importance. 

Just so you know what to expect:

Most of my posts will remain fairly nonpartisan. (Although many will be controversial in other ways, as usual).

Some of my posts will contain the assumption that it’s a bad thing that Trump won. For instance, this one: Struggling More With Disability In the Aftermath of the Election 

If you want to have a conversation with me about why you support Trump, or why I don’t, the place to do that is Twitter. @rsocialskills. I’m probably not going to be replying to any asks or reblogs on that topic on Tumblr.

I don’t block people for disagreeing with me, but I do sometimes block people for being mean to me. If you want to have a conversation on Twitter and are willing to engage in good faith, I’ll probably talk to you. (Assuming I have time — I am very busy these days). If you show up to shout me down or start insulting me personally, I probably won’t engage and I might block you. (Especially on Twitter).

Post-Election FAQ from Lambda Legal

“Understandably, we have been getting a number of questions to Lambda Legal’s Help Desk and through social media about what might happen once President-elect Trump is in office.

We’ve broken it down into four categories:

Don’t Worry (Too Much)
Do These Things Now
How You Can Help
If You Need Help”


Struggling more with disability in the aftermath of the election

Everything gets harder under extreme stress. The aftermath of the election is an extremely stressful situation, and a lot of people are struggling.

This is not a normal situation. Donald Trump is almost certainly going to become President in January. He has promised to do awful things. His actions since Election Day have not been reassuring. This is a terrifying situation. For many people, it’s life threatening. It’s hard to function in a situation like this.

If you have a disability, this may be affecting you differently than it’s affecting nondisabled people. Most people are having trouble right now; most disabled people are having additional disability-related trouble.

If you have a mobility disability, moving might be harder right now. If you have a speech disability, speaking might be harder or impossible right now. If you have sensory issues, some sensory input you are normally able to deal with might be intolerably painful at the moment. If you have an eating disorder, it might be harder to control it right now. If you have seizures or migraines or other neurological problems, your threshold might be lowered. If you have trauma-related triggers, they might be harder to tolerate, or you might be more hypervigilant than usual. If you are hard of hearing, it might be much harder to understand spoken conversations right now. And so on.

Things you’re used to being able to do might be harder or impossible right now. Coping mechanisms you’re used to relying on might not be working. This is true for everyone, disabled or not. But with disability, we’re also having functioning problems that most people around us aren’t having. That can in itself be difficult to cope with.

For many of us, self acceptance as disabled people is a struggle. Under extreme stress, acceptance can be even harder. Acceptance is a skill just like everything else — and under extreme stress, many of us are dramatically more impaired. Acceptance gets harder, at the same time that there is suddenly more to accept. But you’re still worthy of acceptance. You’re not broken. It’s just hard.

Being disabled isn’t a failure. Being more impaired in a time of extreme stress isn’t a character flaw. You’re not alone in struggling. Nondisabled people are also more impaired right now; and they also can’t make it go away through sheer force of will. The particular things you can and can’t do may be different — because you have a disability, and disability matters.

Tl;dr The aftermath of the election is extremely stressful. This kind of stress makes everything harder. If you have a disability, some of your coping skills might not be working very well right now. Acceptance may also feel a lot harder. It’s worth remembering that it’s normal to struggle in situations like this — and it’s not your fault that disability matters now. Your body is not a character flaw.

If an abuser is making you take a ballot selfie, you can still vote the way you want to

If abusive people in your life are expecting you to take a ballot selfie, this doesn’t need to prevent you from voting the way you want to vote. You can fill out a ballot the way they want you to, take a selfie, spoil the ballot instead of casting it, and then vote a new ballot the way that *you* want to vote.

(Note: Taking ballot selfies is actually illegal in several states. In any case, I think taking ballot selfies is a really, really bad idea. But since I know people are doing it, I am writing this to help people protect their right to cast a secret ballot)

Here’s a step by step list of how to do this:

  • Step one: Get your ballot.
  • Step two: Fill out the ballot the way your abusers want you to. *Do not cast it*. Do not put it in the ballot box. (If you are using a voting machine, *do not tap vote* and *do not pull the final voting lever*. )
  • Step three: Take a selfie with the ballot filled out the way your abuser wants you to vote.
  • Step four: Spoil the ballot and ask for a new one (Or if you’re using a voting machine, go back and correct your vote). Draw a line down the middle, and bring the spoiled ballot back to the table where you got the ballot. 
  • Tell the polling person that you made a mistake, and ask for a new ballot. They should take back your spoiled ballot and exchange it for a new one.
  • (If they won’t give you a new ballot, tell their supervisor or call 866-OUR-VOTE for help. You have the right to start over with a new ballot if you make a mistake. *So long as you have not put it in the ballot box yet*. Once you’ve put it in the ballot box, you can’t take it back.) 
  • (If you’re using voting machines and aren’t sure how to start over, ask the polling officials for help. They are required to help you. (But make sure that you don’t press the Vote button or pull a final lever before you fix your ballot! Once you press Vote or pull the voting lever, your vote is final and you can’t undo it.)
  • Step five: Fill out your new ballot the way you want to fill it out. 
  • Step six: Cast your real ballot that you have just filled out. (Put it in the ballot box, pull the lever, or push the Vote button).

Tl;dr If abusers are trying to coerce your vote by making you take a ballot selfie, you can take the selfie and still vote the way you want to. Scroll up for step by step instructions.

More on calling the Election Protection Hotline for help with voting rights

Note: I am not affiliated with Election Protection. I just think they’re awesome and I want to make sure that people know about them.

If someone tells you that you can’t vote, or you run into other barriers, consider calling the Election Protection Hotline. 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). They’re a hotline run by lawyers who really, really care about making sure that everyone has the right to vote. (Hours and information about partner hotlines in additional languages at this link.) They’re nonpartisan; they don’t care which candidate you vote for, they just want to protect your right to vote. 

They can help you figure out what to do if your polling place isn’t accessible, or if it runs out of ballots, if someone tries to intimidate you (or someone else), or if someone tells you that you don’t have the right ID, or other things like that. If you’re not sure whether the law is being followed at your polling place, or you’re not sure who is an official and who isn’t, Election Protection can help. And just, generally speaking, they care about your voting rights, they know what they’re talking about, and they will tell you the truth.

The problem with this is, the only way to talk to them is on the phone, and talking on the phone is really hard for a lot of people. So, in case it helps, here’s some information about what it’s like to call them, and some scripts you might use if you’re having trouble figuring out how to communicate. (You don’t *have* to use these scripts; don’t let it be a barrier to calling for help if you need help. They’re offered in case it is helpful; these are not rules.):

When you call the Election Protection Hotline, they will want to know where you are. This is because the laws are different in different states:

  • Their phone system guesses which state you are calling from based on your area code, and asks you to confirm. 
  • If you say you’re in a different area, the system will ask you to enter your state’s two-letter abbreviation on your phone’s dial pad. 
  • (For instance, North Carolina is NC, which is 62 on a dial pad).
  • (If you’re not sure what your state’s abbreviation is, Wikipedia has a list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_abbreviations)
  • (It also may be helpful to know which county you’re in, because counties sometimes have their own rules. If you’re not sure, you can check online here. http://publicrecords.onlinesearches.com/zip-code-county.php But if you’re not sure, call anyway.)

Once you tell the phone system where you are calling from, the phone system will transfer you to a volunteer:

  • (If no one is immediately available, you might get an answering machine that says you’re calling after hours. If that happens during hours the hotline is open, just try calling back.)
  • The volunteer will ask for your phone number in case you get disconnected, and may also ask for your name.
  • Then they will want to know what’s going on, and what you need help with:

If you haven’t voted yet and you’re trying to get information you need in order to vote:

  • You can say something like “I’m trying to make a voting plan, and I have a question about voting in my area”.
  • For instance “I’m preparing to go vote, and I’m not sure whether I have the right ID. Can you help me figure out if any of the things I have are accepted as IDs where I vote?”
  • Or “I’m not sure where my polling place is.” 
  • Or “I just got out of prison for a felony. Can I vote?” 

If you are at the polls and having a problem right now:

  • You might want to say something along the lines of “I’m at my polling place trying to vote, and I’m having a problem”. 
  • For instance, “I’m at my polling place, and they just told me that I’m not on the list and can’t vote. What should I do?”
  • Or “I’m in line waiting to vote, and people who say that they are poll monitors keep asking to see my ID. How do I get them to leave me alone?”
  • Or “I can’t get into my polling place because it’s inaccessible, so I need curbside voting. I can’t get anyone to acknowledge me. How can I get them to give me a ballot?” 
  • Or “I’m in line waiting to vote. Someone is approaching voters in line and speaking to them in a language I don’t understand. Some people are leaving right after this person talks to them. Is this intimidation?”
  • Or “I’m at my polling place, and I just found some Spanish language flyers that say that Election Day is tomorrow instead of today.”

If you’re reporting a problem that happened earlier or on another day, 

  • You can say something like “I saw something during Early Voting…” or “When I voted this morning…”.
  • For instance: “When I voted during Early Voting last week, some people were turned away because they didn’t have IDs. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I’ve heard since then that our state doesn’t actually require IDs for voting. What’s going on?”
  • Or “When I voted this morning, the accessible voting machine wasn’t set up, and no one there knew how to use it. I didn’t have time to come back, so I had someone assist me. Did the polling place break the law?” 
  • Or “I cast a provisional ballot. Do I need to do anything to make sure that my vote will be counted?”

And so on. Once they know what the problem is, they will talk to you about next steps. (This page has stories about issues they’ve recorded and/or responded to and their Twitter feed and Facebook page also have stories/examples.)

Let’s drop Pokemon Go lures near polling places

Content note: This isn’t really a social skills information post so much as a (nonpartisan) thing I’m planning on doing on voting day in the hopes that it will make voting more pleasant for some people.

I’m planning on dropping Pokemon Go lures on and near some polling places on Election Day. I’m doing this because some of the lines are likely to be long, and I think that voting will be more pleasant if people can catch Pokemon while they wait. 

Especially given that some parents will need to bring their children along. I think waiting in long lines might be easier for a lot of kids if there are good Pokemon around. So I’m going to buy a few lures to try and help with that. 

Most polling places are either on Pokestops or very close to Pokestops. I live within walking distance and subway distance of a lot of polling locations, and I can afford a few lures, so for me, this is pretty doable. Anyone else want to drop lures on Pokestops near polling places?