Poll challenges, phony instructions could mar vote

Persistent reports of robocalls incorrectly telling voters they can cast ballots over the phone and fears of aggressive challenges by monitors at polling places threaten to mar Election Day in many key states, voting rights advocates said Monday.
Associated Press
Nov 5, 2012

The fake phone calls, some of which involve live callers, continued to crop up in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, primarily among African-American voters, said Barbara Arnwine of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The group has mounted a counteroffensive of tens of thousands of calls reminding voters they can't cast ballots over the phone.

"That is really dirty," said Arnwine, who added that the callers' identities remain a mystery. "It's a very sophisticated operation and it's very widespread, and it's very troubling to us."

The last-minute telephone tactics are only the latest in months of legal and political battles over more restrictive voter ID and other laws, mostly fruitless hunts for supposedly ineligible people on voting rolls in many states and sustained claims that African-American and Hispanic voters are being targeted for intimidation and suppression.

Many of these issues could resurface in the courts after Tuesday, particularly if the presidential race is too close to call or heads for a recount in states such as Ohio or Florida.

"Each of these problems can lead to post-election litigation and gum up the election works," said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice.

Voting-rights advocates pointed with particular concern to the tea party-linked True the Vote organization, which has pledged to dispatch thousands of monitors to polling places to guard against potential voter fraud. True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht rejected suggestions that the group would be overly aggressive or issue false challenges.

"Contrary to various interest groups' statements, True the Vote has never been investigated or charged with intimidating voters," she said. "A poll watcher's sole purpose is to monitor the process of our elections. They are trained to never speak with voters, only authorities within the poll."

The Justice Department will have at least 780 observers at key polling places in 23 states to ensure compliance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act and look into any allegations of voter fraud.

In Florida, where Democrats unsuccessfully tried to extend early voting by an extra day, election officials in most of the state's biggest jurisdictions were accepting in-person absentee ballots on Monday. A chaotic scene Sunday in Miami-Dade County, where the election office opened, closed and then opened again, was not repeated Monday. There were still long lines of people but a much more orderly process.

About 200 people were waiting in line at midday Monday at the main Miami-Dade election office. Olga Vila said she only waited about 10 minutes to cast hers.

"I figured the lines were going to be worse tomorrow," said the 47-year-old accountant. "We Latin people wait until the end. That's why I'm here today. I should have mailed it a week ago. I could've mailed it on Saturday, but then I thought if the post office didn't do their thing then my vote wouldn't count."

Provisional ballots were the latest legal skirmish in the critical battleground state of Ohio, where Secretary of State Jon Husted's latest decision on how they can be cast was challenged in federal court. Advocates and lawyers for labor unions contend that Husted's order would lead to some provisional ballots being wrongly rejected because the burden of recording the form of ID used on a provisional ballot is being placed on voters, not poll workers as in the past.

A decision was not expected before Election Day, but the judge overseeing the case planned a ruling before Nov. 17, when provisional ballots can begin to be counted in Ohio. Provisional ballots are used more often in Ohio than most states, with experts predicting between 200,000 and 300,000 will be cast there.

"That could be a huge problem after Election Day for counting ballots," Weiser said. "There's really tens of thousands of voters in Ohio whose votes could be at risk."

Other issues that have surfaced include confusion among voters about what kind of identification is required to cast a ballot, particularly in states such as Pennsylvania where new ID laws were delayed or blocked by protracted legal battles. Arnwine, of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said people must learn the laws affecting voting in their state and not allow themselves to be intimidated by challengers.

"Should an individual come up to you and try to question you, you have to remember you have no obligation to talk to them," she said. "We just want to make sure that people remember to stand your ground, don't be intimidated. Be sure to insist on your right to vote."

 

Comments

totallyamazed

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"Aggressive challenges by monitors at polling places."

I'd like that ;-D

I welcome the challenge
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coasterfan

Wonder what things would be like if a certain political party would just let the election play out fair and square...

Of course, after seeing what they did to Ron Paul at their own convention, I suppose I shouldn't expect that they would all of a sudden start playing fair...

My thoughts

Why can't people just vote on election day? I understand the need for absentee voters but the early voting seems like it just extends the process. Now if the commercials would stop as soon as early voting starts then I am all for a month of early voting.

starryeyes83

8 hour lines, voting machine glitches, over 100 + million Registered voters, Emergencies like Frankenstorm Sandy etc, etc.

This is modern times, deal with it.

wiredmama222

The phone calls are enough to drive you crazy (17 from 8 am the morning till 2 pm this afternoon) until I shut the phone off...seriously from BOTH parties. I lost it on the last call. Several asking to pick me up and DRIVE me to the polls. The TV adds and phone calls should stop the day BEFORE the elections. If you haven't made up your mind by then, you never will.

Phil Packer

Yeah, I can't decide if I want to vote for idiot, or moron...

SamAdams

You spelled "Mormon" wrong...

buckeye15

True the Vote...Frauds!!!

Franklin County Board of Elections yesterday unanimously threw out all their petitions for poll observers because the petition signer signatures were FORGED!

http://www.clevelandleader.com/n...

Kimo

Re: "I welcome the challenge".

I was "challenged" by a Kool Arrow when my name was on the ballot.

totallyamazed

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Congratulations
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SamAdams

There'd be no challenges at all if fraud prevention actually had any teeth in it. I suspect that most of us are entirely legal voters. It's those who aren't, combined with those who want to exert an inappropriate influence on the process, who are causing all the trouble.

I agree: Early voting is part of the problem. There are those who NEED absentee ballots, whether they're overseas in the military (or otherwise) or because they're unable to leave their homes due to some disability or another. The rest of us? We have NO EXCUSE. Polls are open early; they're open late. NOBODY works from before 6:30am until after 7:30pm. NOBODY. Everybody has one nearby (most of you could WALK to your polling place were you so inclined).

If you're too lazy to get off your fat behind and get to a polling place by whatever means, then you're almost certainly too lazy to have a clue who or what you're voting for (or against) anyway. What a shame...

Centauri
The Big Dog's back

sam a, you really need to get out in the world. A whole lot of people work from 7am to 7pm. A whole lot.

reese

Sam, Do you not realize that some people work 12+ hour shifts? My daughter is a nurse and works 12-14 hour shifts starting at 6:30 AM and ending at 7:30 PM or later. Sometimes they work over, because people in the next shift called off. Sometimes emergencies happen and she is not able to leave at the end of her shift. Many people in her profession and others work these kinds of hours, and that time does not include drive time to and from work.
She preferred to early vote because her ballot then goes from her hand to the poll worker's. She didn't want to mail her ballot.

Early voting was started to help to alleviate extremely long lines and waiting at the polls on election day.

2004 was a disaster in Ohio (especially Cuyahoga County)because the voting precincts couldn't handle the numbers of people who showed up. Two years later early voting was created.

Now we have early voting hours being cut and the long lines (waiting 4-8 hours, and in one instance in Florida where early voting ended up lasting until 1 AM in the morning this past weekend)and ridiculous waiting periods are back!

Our population has grown and the old system of one day of voting cannot accomodate everyone who is legally eligible and registered to vote. Most people like to vote in person. Early voting is the next best thing.

Times change...it happens for a reason.

starryeyes83

I'll have to let my family member know that since he works 12- 14 hours ( sometimes as many as 16 .. a day ( plus a 45 minute commute each way)..He's not about to stand in line after working outside ALL day and climbing things. Nor, should he have to.

Nobody, huh? That's easy to say if a person has a type of job with bankers hours or a sit down job. Not everyone has that option.

coasterfan

There is no reason to oppose early voting, because any reason to oppose it is an attempt to make it harder for people to vote. Even with spreading out the voting over several weeks, there are still long lines at many polling places.

We have more than 300 million citizens, so clearly it makes sense to find some way to shorten the lines. Any attempt to curb early voting is an attempt to curb voting, plain and simple.

Ever notice that the vast majority of people who oppose it are Republicans? Could that have something to do with the fact that they, as traditionalists, use early voting in far fewer numbers than Democrats? The new GOP motto: If you can't win fair and square, find another way.

Kimo

I worked next door to a polling site in Toledo today.
The parking lot was full all day and it looked to me like the wait was over an hour. When a car would pull in, I would check the time and when it left I had a wag about how long the wait..................

Kimo

@ samadams
u that Kool Arrow???