[lit-ideas] Democracy in action ....

  • From: JimKandJulieB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2006 23:50:49 EST

_Poll  workers struggle with e-ballots - Yahoo! News_ 
Poll workers struggle with e-ballots 

By DEBORAH HASTINGS, AP National WriterTue Nov 7, 6:01 PM ET  

New voting machines confounded some poll workers around the country on  
Election Day, and a combination of electronic glitches and human error forced  
precincts to extend voting hours or switch to paper ballots. 
More than 80 percent of the nation's voters were expected to cast some type  
of electronic ballot Tuesday, which was the deadline for major reforms 
mandated  by the federal Help America Vote Act, passed by Congress to prevent a 
of  the 2000 election debacle. 
While people in hundreds of precincts waited in long lines, reports of voter  
intimidation and dirty tricks surfaced in at least three states. 
In Arizona, three men, one of them armed, stopped Hispanic voters and  
questioned them outside a Tucson polling place, according to voting monitors 
the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which photographed the 
incidents and reported them to the FBI. 
In Maryland, sample ballots misidentifying the party affiliations of  
Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich and Senate candidate Michael Steel were 
handed  out 
by people bused in from out of state, The Washington Post reported on its  
Web site. 
In Virginia, election officials contacted the FBI over complaints of voter  
intimidation. Jean Jensen, secretary of the Board of Elections, said her office 
 received reports of phone calls apparently encouraging voters to stay home 
on  Election Day. Other calls directed voters to the wrong polling place. 
In another dirty trick controversy, Democrats accused Republicans of  
sponsoring automated "robo-calls" that have infuriated voters around the  
The recorded calls, which reached a fever pitch in the days leading up  to the 
election, automatically dial and re-redial, promoting or trashing a  candidate. 
Republicans have denied responsibility. Some voters have reported being  
awakened in the middle of the night by such calls, and said that after they 
up, the phone rang again. Federal rules bar election phone solicitations after 
9  p.m. 
In some states, the effort to improve the integrity of the election system  
got off to a shaky start. Long lines formed, prompting appeals to judges to 
keep  the polls open longer. 
In Denver, up to 300 people stood outside some polling sites. One was  
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter, who waited an hour and 40  
"It's actually heartening," he said. It means people "understand the process  
is important enough to be patient and wait in line." Nonetheless, Democratic  
Party officials asked a judge to extend poll hours because of the delays. 
A long ballot and new machines caused the disruptions, according to Colorado  
secretary of state spokeswoman Lisa Doran. "Despite the training, some of the 
 election judges are intimidated by the machines," she said. 
Computer glitches and poll workers' unfamiliarity with the new equipment were 
 also blamed for long lines in such states as Tennessee, South Carolina and  
In North Carolina, about 100 voters were left waiting at a church because the 
 poll worker who had the key showed up nearly an hour late. In Pennsylvania, 
a  computer programming error forced some to cast paper ballots. In Indiana, 
175  precincts also resorted to paper. Counties in those states also extended 
poll  hours to make up for delays. 
As of midday, none of the stumbles seemed to signal a voting disaster, said  
poll watchers. 
"Lots of fender-benders, but no major tie-ups," said Doug Chapin, director of 
 electionline.org, a nonpartisan group that tracks election problems. "It's 
been  a steady drumbeat, but nothing that rises to the level of `This could 
compromise  the results.'" 
Nevertheless, some of the mishaps raised the frustration level. 
In Cleveland, where some voters in 2004 waited in 14-hour lines, problems  
with ballot-reading machines caused big delays. For the first time, all 88  
counties used electronic voting — either touch-screens or paper ballots that 
electronically scanned.  
James Marquart said he walked out without voting after poll workers said his  
name wasn't on the rolls, even though he was holding a postcard from the  
elections board that told him which precinct to vote in.  
"They did offer me a provisional ballot, but I have absolutely no faith in  
provisional ballots," he said. Such ballots are only counted if election  
officials can document the voter's registration.  
Activists also feared that last-minute changes in voter identification laws  
would mean even more confusion.  
In Missouri, for example, a judge recently overturned a state law requiring  
voters to produce a government-issued photo identification. In Kansas City on  
Tuesday, some voters nevertheless reported being asked for photo ID.  
"We've had people saying they were turned away," said Edward Hailes of the  
Advancement Project, a voting-rights group monitoring polling sites across the  
country. "We've been trying to contact the board of elections, but the phone  
lines are jammed."  
In Kentucky, a poll worker was arrested after allegedly choking a voter and  
throwing him out of the polling place. The two had argued over a ballot issue. 
"That about tops off the day," said Jefferson County Clerk spokeswoman Paula  

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The  information 
contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast,  rewritten or 
redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated  Press. 

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