Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The State of the States

In the next few days, we'll be doing a brief roundup of what's going out with voting issues in key electoral states around the country.

FLA: 60,000 absentee ballots are missing, according to this story by Michael Christie of Reuters. Broward County deputy Supervisor of Elections Gisela Salas reported that her office sent out 60,000 absentee ballots representing 5% of the county population on October 7 and 8, but lately have been receiving worried phone calls from voters who haven't gotten them yet. It remains unclear what happened to the ballots.

NV: Signs of voter fraud continue to surface in Nevada and around the country, according to Richard Serrano and Ralph Vartabedian of The Los Angeles Times. Eric Russell, a former employees of Voter Outreach of America Inc., a voter registration organization funded by the Republican National Committee and run by the former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, Nathan Sproul, reportedly saw piles of Democratic voter registration forms collected by the group lying in the trash. Tyrone Mrasek says he was told to only register Republicans. Republicans in Nevada and around the country are charging that the Democratic voter outreach groups are registering nonexistent or ineligible voters.

OH: The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that provisional votes in Ohio won't count if cast outside a voter's assigned precinct in this year's election, even if cast in the same town or county. This ruling agrees with the determination of Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who had decided earlier that the federal Help America Vote Act's requirement that state's offer provisional ballots to voters did not require those provisional ballots to be counted if cast outside a voter's assigned precinct.

It is not clear that the 6th Circuit ruling or Blackwell's initial determination are good for democracy: if you live in Columbus, OH, and work across town, it seems like the state ought to be able to get its act together to the point that a voter can vote a polling station near work. Even more broadly, a state ought to be able to determine if a voter is eligible at any polling place, which would facilitate election day registration and the ability to vote anywhere within the jurisdiction of registration.

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