I have signed up with Election Protection to be a poll observer. I 'attended' an informational meeting this afternoon by teleconference.
As I understand it, teams of 2 will be posted outside polls in area where there is reason to anticipate problems with attempted voter suppression or voter intimidation. We'll have a sign that says to ask us if you have problems voting. We will have leaflets to hand out to everyone outlining their rights as voters. We're there to provide information, eyes, and, if necessary, documentation. We'll have cameras to take pictures in case we observe efforts at voter intimidation. We'll have cell phones pre-programmed for the local operations base and for the roving attorneys. It's distinctly cool to think that because of what I do someone might be able to vote who otherwise would have missed the opportunity.
I have a friend who will be doing this in the Phoenix Arizona area. We'll be there for World Fantasy Con the weekend immediately preceeding election day. It seems you also have to be in your assigned city the evening before to take in an in person training session on the exact laws and procedures for the locale where you'll be. I didn't realize that when I signed up and that it was going to conflict with WFC. I'm torn about whether to ask to be assigned with my friend, in which case I'll just have to extend my hotel by a day or two and change the date of my return flight. Which will cost me $100. Or whether to tell them to send me where they need me most. Which might involve quite a lot of flight changing and getting up very early in the morning on Monday to catch a flight that will get me there in time. (I hate traveling west to east.) And spending rather a lot more money on airline tickets Or whether to ask to be sent somewhere in Washington, my home state. Which would mean not changing any plans at all or it costing me any more money. It isn't that we can't afford it, though we've already spent quite a goodly sum on this election, what with campaign contributions and volunteer stuff, and me going to Iowa and all. I'm really inclined to just tell them to send me where they need me. Well, we'll see. I think I'll wait and see where they assign me and then decide whether to accept it or ask for a change.
The list of cities where they will be sending volunteers is on this page. If you live in them, or can make it to them, I urge you to volunteer. We don't want a repeat of Florida, eh? (Jeez. Now, having looked at the list, I'm SO tempted to request New Orleans. I've even got a friend there I could stay with and... Almost certainly my Puritan conscience will not allow me to do so.)
Before volunteering though, realize that while it is a very remote possibility, the possibility exists that doing this could get you nightsticked and thrown in jail if you're really unlucky. Distant, but non-zero. Fortunately, I'm a very benign looking short, white, middle-aged broad. Heh heh heh.