Ballot Do’s and Don’ts

From the Family Policy Institute of Washington:

We would like to thank Sharon Hanek from Research Mom, for passing this important information along to us about the Do’s and Don’ts filling out your ballot.

There are many concerns on filling out the ballots to be sure that your vote is counted correctly.  The following suggestions are based upon the knowledge of official observers that are watching your ballot once it enters the Election Dept.

If you make a mistake you can go to the election center and get a new ballot.  Any changes, white-outs, explanations will result in a re-made ballot.  If you must make corrections, be clear as to your voter intent so the duplicator can easily tell how to re-make your ballot.

Try to avoid any errors that will force a re-made ballot.  There can be human error in any process of re-making the ballot.  If the voter intent is not clear, your ballot may not be counted at all.

  • Use the proper pencil / pen color requested on the form.  Some folks might be concerned about using pencil, but the graphite in the pencil is easily picked up by many of the machines.
  • Correctly extend your lines or fill out your circles
  • Be sure your signature matches the way you signed your original voter registration card. Your full name and shape of the letters should match (eg. Use the same cursive or print letters)  If you are not sure how your signature looks, then fill out a new voter registration form for next time.
  • Be sure your signature matches the name on the envelope.  Some family members may grab the wrong envelope to sign.
  • Add your phone number and return address so you can be quickly reached for any questions on your signature.
  • Use the internet or call your election department to check if your ballot has been accepted.  There is usually a process to track down if your ballot has been received or rejected.  The election dept has a process to give you a second chance to fix errors in signatures verification but not errors in the ballot.  Be prompt in responding to any letters from your election auditor.
  • Feel free to visit the election office to watch the process.  Many centers have windowed areas where you can observe.  Many Counties will allow only official trained observers to be in the election center itself.   All official observers must be under the responsibility of the Democrat or Republican Party.  If your County does not have any “official observers” please go to your party and volunteer.   Some counties will still allow training but others may not.  Be sure to get on the list for future elections.


  • Use red or green ink.  Many colors other than black/blue will not be read by the machine.
  • Use dark markers that could bleed through the other side.  This could result in marks showing on the backside of the ballot that will force a re-made ballot.
  • Use thick pencils, which could result in smudge marks that will force a re-made ballot.
  • Add any additional lines to your ballot.  Any extraneous marks on the ballot, including any markings on other candidate names WILL result in a re-made ballot.  The machine will throw out any ballot with extra dots, lines, words, etc.  If you consistently mark your vote AND draw lines through another candidate it could result in your ballot not counting at all because the voter intent is not clear.
  • Write-in names unless you are clear about that choice.  ALL write-in ballots are pulled out and processed after inspection.

Not Working Alone

God is all powerful and upholds all things, but He likes not just to share the wealth but also the work.

In many ways, what we see here of the Father choosing not to work unilaterally but to accomplish his work through the Son, or through the Spirit, extends into his relationship to us. Does God need us to do his work? Does God need us to help others grow in Christ? Does God need us to proclaim the gospel so that others hear the good news and are saved? The answer is an emphatic no. He doesn’t need any of us to do any of this. Being the omnipotent and sovereign Ruler over all, he would merely have to speak, and whatever he willed would be done. Recall the words of Paul in Acts 17:25, that God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything.” No, the humbling fact is that God doesn’t need any of those whom he calls into his service. So why does he do it this way? Why does he call us into his service, and even command us to “serve the LORD” (Ps. 100:2)? The startling answer is this: He calls us into a service that he doesn’t need because he wants so very much to share with us. He’s generous. He loves and delights in giving a portion of his glorious work to others and empowering them to do it.” (Bruce Ware, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, & Relevance, p. 57)

Imagine how transforming this is for occupational endeavors. The reason someone should hire someone else is not just that they need the work done, but because they self-consciously want to bless the one who works for them. An employee does not view his boss as someone trying to exploit his workers (unless, of course, he is), but as one imitating the great Employer who seeks help in getting the job done. Outside the Triune life are all labor unions, strikes, and exploitations.

Temperature Check

“My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil.

I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us fom God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.

Most of us have too much in our lives. As David Goetz writes, “Too much of the good life ends up being toxic, deforming us spiritually.” A lot of things are good by themselves, but all of it together keeps us from living healthy, fruitful lives for God.”

“LUKEWARM PEOPLE attend church fairly regulalry. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go.

“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men'” (Isa. 29:13). Continue reading

Pulpit Echoes

Conservative churches rightly emphasize the preached word. Paul says “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14). The emphasized whom is how the Greek ought to be translated rather than of whom, as the NIV and ESV mistakenly have it. People need to hear Christ, and not about Christ.

The bulk of a minister’s time ought to be given to preaching. This doesn’t need to be counted as minutes actually writing it or reading a specific book for it, but rightly understood, connected and applied, a preacher centers his broad reading, evangelism, counseling and teaching to that preached word, for it is there that Christ specially speaks to his people and there the power of the Spirit of Pentecost is felt. The pulpit is the prow of the world, as Melville called it.

It’s ironic that churches that most value the pulpit often flag in its application. If Jesus came and spoke this Sunday at your church, would you talk about what he preached on? Of course. Yet this is exactly what Paul says happens every time a minister faithfully proclaims the Word. We fail to intentionally interact with it, to take that gift and wring all we can out of it. Small-group focused churches routinely minimize the importance of Sunday worship other than as an evangelistic event. The preaching is largely for unbelievers and therefore not challenging to mature Christians. It is wrung out in a few minutes on the way back to the car. Then the action comes Wednesday night at the small group when the Bible is examined and the deep things of God brought out. The small group has now become the place of theological depth and personal sanctification.

Sermon-based Bible studies and small groups uphold the Bible’s high view of preaching, allowing, in fact requiring, the minister to preach in-depth and challenging sermons. They also require those sermons to be earthly good. Every sermon does not need explicit applications (as any survey of the Apostolic sermons in the book of Acts will reveal), but every sermon does need to be applicable. Rather than draw people away from the centrality of Lord’s Day worship, sermon-based studies bring them in, making them pay attention, take notes, and prepare to think later about it. Larry Osborne relates a common case:

Let’s take Marginal Mark as an example. He comes to church primarliy for his wife and kids. During a typical sermon, he daydreams about his job, some major decisions he’s facing, or his fantasy football team. He’s a moral guy, just not too “religious.” He’d rather leave the extra stuff for those who are really into it.

Now let’s imagine that his wife gets him to sign up for a sermon-based small group. Suddenly, despite his previous lack of interest, he’s listening at a deeper level. He’ll almost certainly start taking some notes. Then he’ll look at them again, however briefly, before the meeting. At the meeting, with some friends in a safe and non-judgmental enviroment, he’ll discuss the Scriptures and what it means to follow Jesus.

The hook has been set.

He’s now interacting with the Word of God at a level far beyond anything he’s ever done before. And in most cases it won’t be long until the Scriptures start to do their stuff convicting him, instructing him, and training him in a righteousness he didn’t even know he was looking for. (Sticky Church, p. 66)

Jesus speaks through fallible men, and because the words are his, they scatter out beyond worship, accomplishing his purposes. Churches ought to make sure the pulpit echo as far as possible.

Trinitarian Evangelism

Most evangelistic conversations stay a mile wide of the Trinity, and I don’t mean simply avoiding words like perichoresis that ought to be avoided. Gospel presentations that often include multiple members of the Godhead usually do so in a descriptive manner. Man crosses the chasm back to Father over the bridge of the Son. But when people are invited into a relationship with God, they are being invited into an eternal society. “For through Him [Jesus] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access in one Spirit to the Father”, Paul says (Eph. 2:18). This description echoes the doctrine of God where the Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. God has been in fellowship and community forever, and the offer of the Gospel is one of redemption and adoption into God’s family, into the society of the three in one and one in three.

Fred Sanders’ recent book is all about the Trinity: The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything. He notes C. S. Lewis’ excellent discussion of the Trinity in Mere Christianity where he ties the being of God to the offer of the Gospel. Why does the Trinity matter?

It matters more than anything else in the world. The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made. (quoted in Sanders, p. 234)

Bringing the life of the Trinity into evangelism is the antidote to health-and-wealth, prosperity Gospel distortions. God sent his Son, and then his Spirit, to bring man back to himself where life abundant has always been (Jn. 10:10). It also remedies the individualism that has crept into so much evangelism. The Gospel is fundamentally about God, remarkably bringing unholy and unthankful sinners back into his community, the Trinity. It’s not “me and Jesus”, but me and the Triune God, and not just me but the entire family, the church, that is called to reveal the unity of the Godhead.

There is eternal life gong on in the Trinity, and if we are to be saved we must share in that life. Lewis describes our way of access to that Trinitarian life as “good infection,” which calls for us to get close enough to the Trinity to catch this communicable life like a healing virus. The triune life is caught, not taught. Good infection is possible, obviously, only because one person of the Trinity, the Son, has united himself with us by becoming human. Proximity to Jesus is the way to come into contact with the eternal life of the Trinity, because Jesus Christ is that life of God incarnate. “If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise  in us.” This brings Lewis’s exposition of the Trinity full circle, back to the “ordinary simple Christan at prayer” and the Trinitarian cadence of that prayer. (Sanders, p. 234).

Mark No Lackey

“The Gospel of Mark, because it was shorter than the others, and contained little that could not be found in them, was unduly neglected in ancient times. Augustine, for example, says that Mark seems to have followed Matthew ‘as his lackey and abbreviator, so to speak’. But anyone who studies a synopsis of the Gospels where the common material is arranged in parallel columns will see that for the most part it is Matthew and not Mark who abridges. Mark, of course, omits more than half the material which appears in Matthew; but for the material which they have in common Mark is usually fuller than Matthew.” F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, p. 30.

Not a Women’s Rights Issue

“Polls indicate that more women than men affirm the unborn’s right to life. In fact, “the most pro-abortion category in the United states (and also in other nations) is white males between the ages of twenty and forty-five.” More specifically, “the group that is most consistently pro-choice is actually singe men.” It’s ironic that abortion has been turned into a women’s rights issue when it has encouragee male irresponsibility and failure to care for women and children. Shouldn’t men be called upon to do more than just provide money to kill a child? Shouldn’t they be encouraged instead to say to the women they’ve made pregnant, “I’ll be there for our child. I’ll do everything I can for her. And if you’re willing to have me, I’ll be there for you to.””  Randy Alcorn, Why Pro-Life, p. 59.