November 10, 2012

Let's salute the Australian Electoral Commission

In Virginia and Texas some voters waited in line for four hours. In Pennsylvania, there were inappropriate demands for official photo IDs. Recorded calls went out to residents of Florida saying misleadingly that they had until 7 p.m. “tomorrow” to vote. And in Ohio, there seemed to be an unusually high number of provisional ballots, causing concern that they might not all get counted. 

One of their biggest concerns was the apparently large number of provisional ballots given to voters in Ohio, the state many consider the central battleground for the presidential election. Provisional ballots are given when information presented by the voter does not match the registration roll or insufficient identification is presented. By law, provisional ballots must be counted if officials later determine the voter is legitimate. Many provisional ballots end up not getting counted. 

At the Mother of Christ Church in Cincinnati, there was frustration among those advised to use such ballots.

“I don’t want to vote provisionally — I want to vote for real,” Canessa Harrell, 42, told poll workers. Ms. Harrell said poll workers at another precinct had told her to come to Mother of Christ Church to vote, but when she arrived there, she was not listed in the rolls for the precinct. “Will my vote count?” she asked.

“It will still count,” a worker said, following Ms. Harrell, who had decided to leave instead. 

In Columbus, Annie Womack, who was volunteering for the N.A.A.C.P. to watch polls, said she saw people walk away rather than agree to wait in another line and receive a provisional ballot. In Ohio in 2008, about 20 percent of provisional ballots were discarded. 

Another concern had to do with voter identification requirements in Pennsylvania. A law passed earlier this year said voters had to present an official form of photo ID at the polls, but a judge said that would not go into effect for this election. He said poll workers should ask for the ID but voters without them could go ahead and vote in a normal manner anyway. 

But there were examples of voters without the ID being told they could not vote without it. In Allegheny County in the southwestern part of the state, a judge barred people outside polling stations from demanding identification from voters after a complaint that poll workers were seeking ID from people outside a polling place in Homestead, Pa.
No matter how low our lowly current bunch of politicians stoop, no matter how empty their basket of goodies, at least we have a tidy, fair and robust voting system - yes, it's still all done on bits of paper and with blunt pencils, but it works.

Plus we get to vote on a weekend, so can wait patiently in line, without harassment, and without need of worrying about getting back to work. 

So let's give a shout-out to the Australian Electoral Commission! Bless.

Long lines, demands for photo ID, provisional votes, mar voting for some

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