““Our investigation reveals that instead of functioning as a fail-safe means of voting, provisional voting often creates a serious risk of disenfranchisement,” Elizabeth Westfall, Voter Protection Program deputy director, Advancement Project.
The Advancement Project just issued a report on how Provisional ballots, rather than helping voters, may in some cases be disenfranchising thousands of voters.The report focuses on Florida and Ohio in particular, noting that there was an over use or perhaps an inappropriate use of provisional ballots in those states. In some states (Florida is one) a provisional ballot only counts if the voter is at the “right” precinct. In those cases, giving a voter who is at the wrong precinct a provisional ballot will disenfranchise them.Many voters could vote a regular ballot instead of accepting a provisional ballot, if all they needed to do was go to the correct polling place or perhaps bring ID. Few voters realize that a provisional ballot will not be counted on election night, and will have to be reviewed and approved before it can be counted. Not all will be approved, and the rate of approval varies by state.
September 24, 2008 (September 24, 2008, WASHINGTON DC) — Today, Advancement Project, a leading voter protection organization, released “Provisional Voting: Fail-Safe Voting or Trapdoor to Disenfranchising Voters.”...
Bad timing or last ditch effort to supress new voters? A recent alert by the Social Security Administration announces that the agency plans to shut down its databases for maintenance from October 11 through October 13. How will this hurt new voters? Election officials would lose 4 days of processing time needed to handle new registrants. Elections staff are already overworked at this time of the year and this is another straw on the camel's back.
This 4 day shutdown occurs at a critical time for most states - it is just past the average cutoff date to turn in new voter registrations. (25 days before the election). Thanks to the "Help America Vote Act" passed in 2002, officials now must check either the registrant's last 4 digits of their social security number against the government database, or the voters drivers license number against the DMV. This shut down would mostly hurt voters who do not have a car or drive.
Updated (5:30pm): Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) writes to Social Security Administration seeking delay of shutdown. A copy of the letter is here.
A recent alert by the Social Security Administration announces that the agency plans to shut down its databases for maintenance from October 11 through October 13. While this might not sound like an election issue, it turns out that this could significantly impede registration of first-time voters as well as the re-registration of eligible citizens.