2006 - %3, November

South Carolina Governor Rejected From The Polls

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 11:42 AM PST

In South Carolina, the highest elected official in the land forgot his voter identification card and was turned away at the polls. According the the Associated Press, Republican Gov. Mark Sanford tried to vote using a driver's license with a Columbia, South Carolina address that didn't match his precinct in Sullivan's Island. Following protocol, poll workers rejected him. He went home to get his voter ID card, came back about 90 minutes later and cast his ballot.

If South Carolina's own governor can't get it right, what should we expect in Ohio? A directive there requires voters to show a photo ID with a current address, a scenario that would have presumably barred Sanford from casting a regular ballot.

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FBI Investigating Voter Suppression in Democratic Precincts in Virginia

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 11:30 AM PST

MSNBC reports: "State officials yesterday, after getting information initially from Democrats, said that they were able to document dozens of phone calls that were made to heavily Democratic precincts in which the people who were receiving the calls were either given incorrect information about polling sites, misdirected about election laws. And so the FBI has now interviewed state officials and state officials say the investigation continues."

See video of the report here. Print report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch here. American Prospect's blog TAPPED has sound of one of the calls. A man refers to the voter being called by name, and threatens him with criminal charges if he shows up to the polls. Pretty stunning stuff.

Mother Jones has been all over the Allen/Webb race, with a cover story today and two Washington Dispatches.

The Northeast: The Worst Place to Vote Today?

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 11:29 AM PST

Despite high profile vote-counting controversies in Ohio in 2004, provisional ballot data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission shows that the worst place to vote that year was the Northeast: the region had the second highest percentage of provisional ballots cast as a percentage of voter registration, 1.34, but reported the lowest rate of counting those ballots, 42.8 percent. The worst state was New York, with a whopping 2.21 percent of registered voters casting provisional ballots, yet only 40 percent of those ballots being counted. That means the percentage of people who were denied a vote in New York was .88 percent—or more than the .79 percent margin that decided the presidential election that year in New Mexico.

Provisional ballots, which were required for the first time in 2004 by the Help America Vote Act, aren't the only measures of election fairness, but a large number of provisional ballots cast and then invalidated most likely means: 1) Voters are uneducated about registration rules, or 2) Elections officials are excluding people who should be eligible—neither of which is good news.

So how are things going this year in the Empire State? The Albany Times-Union reports on phone calls, some automated and some allegedly made by people who live nowhere near New York, that are raising complaints on both sides of the aisle of unfair campaign tactics: "Republicans claimed Democrats were misdirecting voters to the wrong polling places -- an allegation Democrats chalked up to honest errors."

Among New York residents to hit a snag: Chelsea Clinton

States with Voting Problems

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 10:50 AM PST

People for the American Way reports the election incident reporting system (EIRS) "is experiencing enormous traffic and is difficult to access. We are working to solve the problem." Some of the hotspots this morning:

Ohio: Confusion over photo ID requirements, delays because of voting machine problems.

Pennsylania: Long lines in Allegheny county where machines did not work this morning. Machine failures resulted in some leaving the polling place without having voted. Voting machine-related delays also in Philadelphia and Lebanon county.

Illinois: In Will County, an election judge failed to show up and a polling place was still closed an hour after polls were supposed to open.

Florida: Voting machine problems and the failure of an election judge to show up in Broward County cause delays. Also, "In Deerfield Beach, one predominantly African American precinct did not open for at least two hours when machines failed, and no paper ballots were available,'' says People.

Indiana: Electronic voting machines were causing problems in Delaware County and Marion County. In Delaware County, computer errors were causing problems in 75 precincts, and in Marion County, touch-screen machines were not working in more than 10 percent of the county's precincts, and voters were using paper ballots instead.

Virginia Voters Speak Their Minds

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 9:05 AM PST

At the Westgate elementary school in Manassas, another northern Virginia Washington suburb, voters are put out because some have been re-routed through two precincts before landing in a third where their names are listed on the books. There were reports of heavy voting in the early morning hours here, but by mid morning there was but a trickle of voters going in and out of the school.

People were not shy in expressing their opinions on who they voted for and why.

Thomas Hamilton, 70, said, "I am better off today than I was four or eight years ago." He cast his ballot for Allen.

Roger Johnson, 58, a plumber, doesn't like the war and thinks the Dems "are a step in the right direction." Johnson adds, "Bring the babies home."

Linda Gerkin, 46, a receptionist, said the war was a major issue. "I support the troops and what we're doing but I'd like to get them out of there," she said, adding the Republicans -- "they'll get them out."

Luis Unana, 26, a student at George Mason University who works full time in a security firm, said he wanted to see traffic improvement and improved higher education. He was against the war, and voted straight Democrat.

Voting Outrage? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 8:22 AM PST

As Americans head to the polls today, they should program one very important number into their cell phones: 1-866-OUR-VOTE. If you encounter any suspicious situations at the polls, log them at that number, and help citizen activists patrol the vote.

Several web sites are publicizing voting irregularities as they come up, including protectourvotes.org and talkingpointsmemo.com.

Finally, electiononline.org has a good rundown of voting news broken down by state.

Update: People keep mentioning more sites monitoring voting incidents and problems around the nation. Other good ones include electionprotection365.org and votetrustUSA.org.

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Virginia Early Morning Voting

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 8:02 AM PST

Polling was relatively light in early morning voting in the key swing northern Virginia suburbs in the Webb/Allen Senate race. At a community center in Dale City, down the Potomac from Washington, there was a small line by 8:30 with officials claiming 155 people having already voted. "I was a veteran," said Clyde Lawrence, who voted for Allen. "You've got to back the troops regardless of what's going on."

The actual voting process is taking somewhat longer than expected because there are three amendments on the ballot, including one on marriage

Heavy rain is predicted for parts of Virginia and Tennessee.

Storm Clouds in Kentucky 2nd

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 7:22 AM PST

The race for Conress in Kentucky's second district is not only hotly competitive, but is already embroiled in voting rights irregularities. According to Warren Stewart of VotetrustUSA "callers are complaining that the name of the candidate that shows up on the review screen is not the candidate they voted for." In the end run the irregulaities may amount to nothing, but the contest is well worth keeping an eye on.

In the 2nd district Ron Lewis, the incumbent with 12 years in the House, looked like a shoo-in. But Democratic challenger Mike Weaver is hard on his tail and has pulled up enough for CQ last night to change the ratings from Favored Republican to Leans Republican. Weaver's success in the campaign can be attributed to his conservative stance on issues, which have helped keep him from getting tabbed as yet another left wing Democrat. He shies clear of Nancy Pelosi, plays up his background as a vet, but has been criticized as being too conservative. Lewis looked bad when he didn't show up for eight consecutive debates.

Election Chief Asked for ID at Voting Booth After Helping Secure Law Saying ID Not Necessary

| Mon Nov. 6, 2006 7:00 PM PST

A zany and troubling story out of Missouri. First, a quick run-down on the issue of voter identification: Democrats in charge of elections usually oppose forcing individuals to show photo ID at the polls because the Democratic base is more likely than the Republican not to have a driver's license, state ID card, or anything similar. Republicans, for the same reason, favor mandatory voter ID.

Missouri's Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, thought she had this settled after a state Supreme Court ruling struck down a law that mandated voter ID. Then she went to the polls.

Carnahan was asked three times by a poll worker to show photo ID when she went to cast an absentee ballot Friday. From the AP: "Carnahan said that she tried to explain a photo ID was not necessary, but that the election worker replied that she was instructed to ask for one anyway. Carnahan said she eventually was allowed to vote without displaying a photo identification."

Said Carnahan: "I'm guessing this may be happening in other parts of the state." And other parts of the country, no doubt.

The Newest New Election Tricks

| Mon Nov. 6, 2006 5:50 PM PST

If you've read Mother Jones' recent story on 11 sneaky vote suppression tactics, you might think you know every trick in the bag. But just in case you aren't already feeling paranoid, more concerns have been brought to light in Cast Out, a new report by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice:

Wireless Technology in Voting Machines

A year-long Brennan Center study, completed in June, found many voting machines include wireless components that could be infiltrated by a Trojan horse virus using technology as simple as a palm pilot. Only Minnesota, New York and California ban machines with wireless components. The report found the machines "pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state and local elections."

The Help America Vote Act Inverted

Passed by Congress in 2002 to improve access to the polls, the Help America Vote Act requires all states to create computerized databases of registered voters by January 1, 2006. "For the first time we are seeing virtually every state with a centralized voter list," says Cast Out author Wendy Weiser. The databases are supposed to be more reliable and easily updated than paper versions, but, as they come online, many states are cross-checking them against databases maintained by other state agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and purging any names that don't match up. According to Weiser, these cross-checks can improperly reject up to 20 percent of voters from the rolls. Voters may have no way of knowing they've been booted until the show up at the polls on election day.

And Don't Bother Registering Either

Some states are also using DMV and Social Security databases to reject voter registration applications as soon as they arrive. Challenged in a lawsuit, Washington State and Pennsylvania abandoned the practice but Florida, North Carolina, South Dakota and Iowa still use it.