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The Tally Ho

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Electronic Activism and Voting Rights

In case you missed it, earlier this week Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell attempted to disqualify thousands of new voters in Ohio due to the stock of paper that the voter registration was printed on. Well it looks like he has had to reverse his decision. I can't provide a link to the Columbus Dispatch article, but here is a little
At issue is a reminder Blackwell issued this month to county boards of election that voter-registration forms must be printed on "white, uncoated paper of not less than 80-pound text weight," a heavy, cardlike stock.

While the Franklin County Board of Elections and others have continued accepting forms submitted on lighter-weight paper, some county elections officials said yesterday they have been disqualifying registrations because the paper was not thick enough.

Critics charged that the confusion and inconsistency threatened to prevent tens of thousands of would-be voters from participating in the general election and could trigger lawsuits challenging the results. They also blasted Blackwell for issuing the directive less than a month before Ohio's voter registration deadline and at a time when elections officials are working around-the-clock to keep up with record-smashing registration efforts in a presidential battleground state.

"There could be chaos on election day, and at the very least there is going to be inconsistencies," said Scott Britton, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

"We should be making it easier for people to register to vote, not harder."

Jocelyn Travis, Ohio coordinator for the Election Protection coalition and People for the American Way Foundation, said, "We can't let a piece of paper stand between people and their right to register and vote."

Make no mistake, not all of the complaints came from within the state of Ohio. This story spread nationally within a few hours because of electronic media (online newspapers, Daily Kos, etc. listing contact numbers of those involved). Next up is Colorado's Secretary of State Donetta Davidson, a Republican. From this Denver Post editorial
The rule, drafted by Secretary of State Donetta Davidson, says that some voters who cast provisional ballots this November will have only their votes for president counted. No other votes will be counted - not even those for statewide races and ballot issues.

Provisional ballots are relatively new to the election scene and were first used in Colorado two years ago. They are given to voters who aren't on a precinct poll list or who don't provide identification. Such ballots aren't counted until after a voter's registration has been verified, which sometimes doesn't happen until days after an election.

Davidson's rule would apply only to voters who not only have ID problems but who also show up at the wrong polling place. If you cast a provisional ballot in your home precinct, all your votes will count once your status is checked.

This is an effort to suppress voting. While I don't think the Democrats will take the house, this does effect the Senate as Democrat Ken Salazar is in great shape. Click here for the links posted on Kos for the contact information of the Secretary of State, Newspapers, television stations, electors, etc.

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