Update Wednesday evening Paris time:
Today marks the 6th anniversary of the Help America Vote Act. The act was intended to create opportunities for states to upgrade their voting systems to make them more efficient and fair. Most states used more money to upgrade voting equipment than train pollworkers or improve state databases. Now, four years and $2 billion dollars later, both officials and voters wonder whether it isn’t time for more comprehensive election reform.
Battleground voting round-up:
Colorado: The battle still rages over whether or not to reinstate thousands of voters whose names were removed from state records.
Florida: Governor Charlie Crist’s order to extend early voting hours comes as a welcome relief to thousands of voters. The move has cut wait times tremendously.
Indiana: Democratic and Republican lawyers are preparing for the “last stand” on early voting in Lake County. The state Court of Appeals will hear the case on Thursday.
North Carolina: Election watchdogs are working to educate voters since a quirk in North Carolina’s balloting process requires that even if you vote “straight ticket,” you must also check your choice of candidate for president. Many fear that countless voters’ choice for president will not be reflected, because of this feature.
Pennsylvania: A judge is weighing a request to issue paper ballots more often, should voting machines break down. With huge turnout expected and machine problems present in states with early voting, many voter groups argue that paper ballots are a necessary back-up.
Virginia: The Obama campaign is encouraging state officials to make certain all military votes are counted in this year’s election.
Georgia residents wait hours to vote
Some Georgia residents have waited six to eight hours to cast an early ballot, mainly due to computer glitches and an overload of the state’s computerized voter verification system. Meanwhile, a federal panel ruled Monday that Georgia should have sought Department of Justice approval before implementing a Social Security number check of new voters’ immigration status. The ruling means that voters whose eligibility has been questioned must be allowed to cast a ballot November 4th.
Gearing up for November - 5th?
A fake flier is circulating in Hampton County, Virginia, advising Republicans to vote on November 4th (officially Election Day for all voters) and Democrats on November 5th. The flier makes use of official logos and mastheads, and makes reference to the General Assembly adopting “emergency regulations to ease the load on local eletorial (sic) precincts…” Yes, the Republicans went to all that trouble to create a fake document, but didn't bother to use spellcheck.
No match, no problem
Broward County, Florida has joined other counties like Miami-Dade in easing its policy, allowing a one-stop Election Day option for some 1,600 voters who remain “unverified” under the state’s “no match, no vote” rule. While unverified voters still need to vote by provisional ballot, they will be allowed to attach copies of approved identification and no further action will be required. As the Wall Street Journal reported, provisional ballots are already being issued, according to voters calling into Election Protection’s 1-866-OUR VOTE hotline.
In Georgia, thousands of eligible voters and U.S. citizens have been incorrectly identified as non-citizens and have been removed from the voter rolls. Several election watchdog groups have filed a lawsuit in Colorado, alleging that more than 20,000 names were wrongfully removed from state voting records.
Vote “flipping” made its debut in West Virginia, when voters would attempt to hit a touch-screen button for one candidate but found their vote “jumped” to another. Similar problems have now been identified in three other states: Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. The problematic machines are all made by the same company. Election officials have blamed the problems on the machines being poorly calibrated.
Watching the polls
Both Democrats and Republicans will have volunteers deployed on Election Day as poll watchers, particularly in battleground states like Florida. The campaigns are also organizing a small army of lawyers to be dispatched to problematic precincts at a moment’s notice, should any contested votes become an issue. Watchdog groups such as the Election Protection coalition also have been monitoring early voting and troubleshooting problems.
You, too can watch the polls, thanks to the launch of OurVoteLive.org, a site developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for Election Protection. Now through Election Day, you can visit OurVoteLive.org to view, sort and analyze all the reports coming into Election Protection from voters around the country.