Ballot Watch: How You Can Help Protect Your Vote

On Election Day, millions vote in thousands of polling places, at tens of thousands of voting machines, attended by tens of thousands of poll workers -- and produce literally billions of separate transactions.

Mistakes, errors, and maybe even purposeful wrongdoing will be encountered.

Bad apples with real stakes in these elections may try to manipulate your vote. Some may try to keep you from voting by using intimidation tactics. Some may lie or make false accusations to help their favored candidates. Others may try to bend or break the rules and commit vote fraud. And even good-hearted people may make mistakes that are significant enough to influence election contests from the presidency on down the ballot.

It is vitally important to the country that the final election results -- particularly for the presidency -- be seen as fair and legitmate by all Americans.

So we need your help.

All it takes is an e-mail to The ABC News Political Unit.

You might encounter problems or issues with the mechanics of casting and tabulating your ballot, from rules about absentee votes and voter ID, to problems with electronic machines in your county, to poll workers who don't know the law.

Many states have totally revamped their election tabulation and ballot-casting machines. States have reformulated their recount procedures, implemented a federally mandated provisional ballot law, and spent millions to recruit more poll workers, train them better and clarify arcane, often conflicting state rules.

Still, several states continue to use outdated punch-card machines. The legal precedents from Bush v. Gore are unsettled and confusing. And literally millions more voters cast absentee ballots this year, potentially delaying the count.

It's easy to help us.

Casting and Counting

As we said, we're especially interested this year in the mechanics of voting (what we call "casting and counting"). We're looking for any type of communication — be it from a neighbor, a radio ad, a flier, a billboard, a county elections official, police officer, a secretary of state — that confuses voters or seems suspect to you.

So, if you are a citizen or an election official …

If you're concerned about a particular precinct in your county, let us know.

If you receive an improperly printed ballot, let us know.

If you didn't request an absentee ballot but got one anyway, let us know.

If you see flyers saying "Election Day Is Nov. 5," let us know.

If your local paper has a scoop about ballot integrity, let us know.

If you suspect local get-out-the-vote activists of committing ballot fraud (and you have evidence), let us know.

If you suspect that local authorities are trying to supress the vote in your county or precinct (and you've got evidence), let us know.

To submit material to our Ballot Watch corps, just e-mail us -- politicalunit@abcnews.com.

Tell us as much about yourself as you want, though all we really need to know is where you live and what race you're concerned about.

We'd prefer to have your name and phone number (which we'll keep private, zealously guarding our sources, as usual), in case we have questions.

We'll respond to your e-mail with a mailing address where you can send the hard copies of your stuff (or we might send someone to pick it up from you, if that's OK).

We are looking for material for ABC News programs, and ABCNews.com.

We plan to publish the newsworthy material on ABCNews.com -- featuring it in our daily morning Note and all the time on NOTED NOW, and as a separate story.

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