Voter Suppression and Provisional Ballots

4 11 2008

CNN is reporting “six Republican election board workers in Philadelphia were told to leave their polling precincts” since they lacked authorization such as a court order to work at that particular polling precinct. Apparently, some in the McCain-Palin campaign might respond by taking legal action. Campaign officials are even publicly suggesting that it’s part of an effort to intimidate Republicans in a part of the state where they don’t predominate.

Bill Porritt a campaign spokesperson told CNN “Election board officials guard the legitimacy of the election process and the idea that Republicans are being intimidated and banned for partisan purposes does not allow for an honest and open election process.”

Historically, its been the GOP who has led efforts to intimidate and suppress voter turnout, especially in neighborhoods filled with people of color, naturalized immigrants, and poor people. Coincidentally, 45 percent of the city is African American, 10.5 percent is Hispanic, nine percent is foreign born, and 21 percent lives below the poverty line, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau.

Nevertheless, certain Republican figures, such as former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton are propagating this ridiculous notion of “reverse intimidation” directed at GOP lawyers and officials.

Check it out.

Part of the GOP’s suppression strategy is to challenge votes, or dispute someone’s right to vote on technical grounds, at the polling sites, which inevitably extend wait times on lines. This often results in people having to cast provisional ballots, not regular ballots.

So what’s wrong with provisional ballots? Well, the Brennan Center explains:

In part because of their novelty, in many states, provisional ballots generated confusion before, during, and after the 2004 election. A number of states did not plan for provisional balloting until shortly before the election, and the rules kept changing up until the last minute. Not surprisingly, this led to widespread problems at the polls and afterward.

A report of the Election Protection Coalition found that provisional ballot problems were among the top five complaints registered on its 1-866-Our-Vote hotline. Most of the reported incidents consisted of complaints that provisional ballots were not available at polling sites, that poll workers did not offer or refused to allow voters to cast provisional ballots, and that poll workers were confused about provisional balloting procedures and rules.

Problems in administering provisional ballots may have disenfranchised many eligible voters. For example, where provisional ballots were not available or not offered, eligible voters were turned away from the polls as before HAVA. And provisional ballots also created problems that did not exist before. For example, reports from poll sites across the country suggest that many voters who should have been entitled to cast regular ballots were given provisional ballots—which had a lower chance of being counted—instead.

In addition, in part because of cumbersome procedures, provisional ballots led to delays at many polling places; the resulting long lines peeled off a not insubstantial number of voters.

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2 responses

4 11 2008
jonolan

Right and the Dems never do anything wrong. Anything that a Republican says just must be a lie. It never occurs to your kind that the Dems would use the same tricks does it?

… And I guess we’ll just completely ignore the club wielding Black thugs the Dems hired in Philly to intimidate White voters?

5 11 2008
Wayne

Seriously? “dems” hired one black panther in front of one polling place to intimidate white voters?

I hate to see you at a baseball game.

All jokes aside, though, you’re comparing one idiot at a polling place with massive attempts to suppress voter turnouts? While I don’t have a problem with challenging people who should not be voting, I do have a problem with efforts like this to effectively become a monkey wrench into an already backlogged system.

I’d say that your priorities are a bit off. I’m not defending the black panther, but i recall a cop sending this fellow on his merry little way. Who the hell do you call when GOP operatives are willfully trying to muck up the political process?

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