Problems At The Polls


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State Laws And Election Administration Errors Causing Problems On Election Day

***The polls are set to close in a few hours. If you have yet to vote, what are you waiting for? Vote! Click here to get all the information you need when you go to the polls. A number of state laws have changed and may have altered the required documents you need to cast a ballot.***

Throughout the course of Election Day, ThinkProgress has been reporting on the ground from seven states across the country. They have gone beyond the horserace to uncover how the election process is going for voters. And they are finding numerous problems, whether the result of new state voter suppression laws, election administration issues, or something else. Here are a few (and check out the liveblog for more):

  • North Carolina’s New Election Restrictions Are Turning Away Voters: At two polling places south of the city center, voters are turning up in steady numbers throughout the morning. But many of them aren’t casting ballots: they are being turned away because they aren’t at their correct precinct.
  • Georgia Voter Redirected To Polling Place 35 Miles Away: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office failed to process tens of thousands of voter registration cards — mostly in heavily African-American counties — before the election, and it’s causing confusion at the polls. Karl Ragland and his wife moved to Atlanta from Covington, Ga., earlier in the year and submitted a change of address form to the Board of Elections. But when they showed up at their new polling place in Atlanta, they learned that the form had never been processed. Karl now has to drive 35 miles to Covington to vote, causing him to miss up to two hours of work. “I am going to vote today,” Karl said.
  • Texas Voting Restrictions Sow Confusion At The Polls: At a polling site in Third Ward, a historically African American neighborhood in Houston, two voters have been turned away for lacking a photo ID. One had simply left it at home, and would have to make an additional trip to the polls. The other had to cast a provisional ballot, which has a much lower chance of being counted.
  • More Than 21,000 Kansans Could Be Blocked From Voting On Election Day: Tens of thousands of Kansans who registered to vote may find themselves ineligible on Tuesday as a result of a new law that “requires people registering to vote for the first time to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport,” the Wichita Eagle reported on Friday. As of Oct. 31, 21,473 registered voters had not sent in documentation showing that they are American citizens.
  • Atlanta Voters Are Being Required To Pay To Park: In one of Atlanta’s largest voting precincts, voters are complaining about being required to pay as they leave the parking lot next to Georgia Tech’s student center polling site, even though signs advertised free parking on Election Day. Advocates say that requiring people to pay extra fees during the process of voting essentially amounts to a poll tax.
  • Miami Man Waited More Than 4 Hours To Vote After Poll Workers Refused To Allow Address Change: Florida law allows voters to change their address at the polls on Election Day. But because poll workers have not been adequately trained on Florida’s Electronic Voter Identification System (EVID), some voters who have recently moved are having problems casting ballots in their new precincts. Opa-Locka resident Eugene Gonzalez arrived at his polling location at 8:30 this morning, but did not cast his ballot until 1 pm because poll workers mistakenly told him that he needed to vote in Broward County, where he lived previously and was still registered.
  • Alabama Voters With Public Housing, Shelter IDs Are Being Turned Away: At least three Alabama citizens apparently have been denied their right to vote thanks to the state’s voter ID law, a last-minute decision by the state that public housing and shelter ID’s are not valid proof of identity.
  • Longtime Voter Removed From Voter Rolls In Ohio: Jamil Smith, a producer for MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show, reported on Twitter this morning that his father encountered a serious problem attempting to vote: “My father, who has voted in every election as long as he can remember, tells me his name wasn’t on the rolls this morning. He lives in Ohio.” It’s unclear how Smith’s father’s name was removed from the voter rolls, but Ohio was one of several states that signed onto a voter purge scheme devised by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) that developed a lost of voters under consideration for purging by simply finding people who share the same first and last name as a voter in another state.

BOTTOM LINE: These problems at the polls are just a few extremely concerning examples that should be immediately corrected — and could be illegal or unconstitutional. In response to this and other anecdotal evidence of barriers to voting, the Center for American Progress has issued letters to Secretaries of State in Kansas, North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia, urging them to take “immediate action” to rectify these concerns. Voting is a fundamental deomcratic right, and it should be free, fair, and accessible to all citizens.