Primary Precinct Problems Presage General Election Chaos Unless Addressed Immediately
by Project Vote, Thu Feb 07, 2008 at 09:17:01 AM EST
Weekly Voting Rights News Update
By Erin Ferns
An increase in turnout among historically underrepresented voters Tuesday brings hope for outstanding voter participation that represents all Americans in November. Project Vote's Super Tuesday exit poll analysis found young and minority voters made a strong presence at polls in key states across the country, including record-setting turnout among Latinos in California. While voter participation appears to be on the rise in this critical presidential election year, polling place problems persist as some voters - and their precincts' poll workers - were unaware of state and federal voting procedures, creating the risk of intimidation and disenfranchisement. In order to maintain fair and open access to voting for all Americans, it important to prepare voters and facilitate effective poll worker training before November.
Polling Place Locations:Providing polling places with a comprehensive list of all registered voters in the jurisdiction, rather than just the voters assigned to any specific polling location, greatly facilitates directing a voter to her correct polling place. Provisional Ballots: Utilized when a person's name does not show up on the poll book, it must be determined that the person is in the correct polling location before being provided with a provisional ballot. Some voters may be flagged in the poll book and required to show ID before voting. This is often the case for first-time voters who registered by mail but have not yet had their identities verified. If people who are flagged in the poll book arrive to vote without the proper ID and so vote provisionally, poll workers must be trained to instruct voters as to what they must do to have their ballots counted. Replacing Spoiled Ballots: If a state uses paper ballots, the voter has a right to get a second ballot if the voter made an error on the first. Poll workers must be trained to administer this process. ID at the polls: If ID is required of any voters on Election Day, there must be clear direction for poll workers on which is needed and what forms are acceptable. If the person does not have the proper ID with her, poll workers must be able to clearly explain the voter's options. Brining Someone In the Booth to Help:Pollworkers should know that voters have a right to bring anyone of their choosing into the voting booth with them, except for their employer and their union representative. Using New Machines: Poll workers must not only be familiar with how to operate voting machines themselves, but also be able to clearly explain it to voters needing help.Challenger Rights and Limitations: Challengers will likely have little training on the rules and limitations guiding polling place behavior. While their intervention could ensure that someone is not inappropriately voting, intervention can also result in disruption and disenfranchisement. Poll workers are ultimately responsible for imposing the state guidelines when necessary, and so must be instructed on challenger management.
Quick Links'Super Tuesday' Exit Poll Findings for Five States Show Young, African-American and Latino Voters Surging.' Project Vote. Feb. 6, 2007.Elements of a Successful Poll Worker Training Program. Project Vote. Feb. 2007.In Other News The Maryland Attorney Generals Office appealed Monday a ruling issued Friday by an Anne Arundel County judge that 17-year-olds have the right to vote in nonpartisan elections as long as they are 18 by the date of the general election. Read more of this Gazette.Net story here. The audience, admittedly, was captive. But in a year of record turnouts for the presidential primaries, perhaps no place saw a bigger uptick in voter registration than Los Angeles County jails. Read more of this Los Angeles Times story here.Erin Ferns is a Research and Policy Analyst with Project Votes Strategic Writing and Research Department (SWORD).
Tags: 2008, election integrity, felon voting rights, Los Angeles, Maryland, Missouri, Poll workers, precinct, presidential election, Primary, Project Vote, Super Tuesday, voter participation, Voting Rights, Youth Voting (all tags)