Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Afternoon Common Cause Election Update

From the inbox and the Common Cause website:

By Lauren Coletta
Posted on Tue Nov 04, 2008 at 06:15:56 PM EST

It is difficult to make general statements about whether or not Pennsylvania experienced serious systemic problems today-serious meaning that the problems were so many that they impacted the outcome, disenfranchised voters, or caused people to lose faith in the process. Days and weeks will be needed to do that sort of analysis and at this moment there are still a few hours to go at the polls. What is clear is that many of the problems in Pennsylvania, long lines, too few machines, too few well trained poll workers were predictable and could have been avoided. How long should voters be expected to stand in line? Certainly an hour is reasonable but some voters waited as long as three hours in State College, Philadelphia and in Allegheny County. At what point does a voter give up, forfeiting their right to vote for personal considerations--essentially being disenfranchised because of the government's inability to collect votes in a reasonably swift and accurate way?

Clearly, the system needs more resources, voters need more time to vote via early voting and an Election Day holiday, poll workers need training, and machines need to be accessible and trustworthy. We can do these things! When we address these issues in the future, and we must, most of us will just be curious about the results come Election Day, we won't have to wonder if the election was clean or if people were wrongly shut out of the process.

Summary of top problems Election Day Afternoon

* One significant statewide issue is a breakdown between state voter registration lists and the lists that have been printed out for the polling places. This issue is widespread and as caused an unknown number of voters to vote provisionally.

* We still have a three hour long line in State College at the Quaker Meeting House. Students names are not appearing on the rolls even though they were registered causing a number of provisional ballots. An unusually high voter turnout is contributing to the problem as well. Student groups were passing out food and games to their fellow students to pass the time.

* Scranton: Generally quiet but they have had a number of optical scan machines break down. Voters have to leave ballots without scanning them until the machines are repaired.

* Allentown: A republican poll worker is challenging voters--it is really slowing the lines down. This is in the 4th Ward, 12th Precinct. Common Cause is sending an attorney, unknown if Election Protection has already sent one.

* Armed police (Constables) continue to be an issue in various places. In Redding we have reports of a security guard wearing a FBI cap which has intimidated voters.

* Ben Salem: A gas leak forced two polling places to close. Judges told the people to come back later. The polling places have reopened. We don't know the exact times or how many voters were turned away.

* Hazelton: Complaints from the Hazelton City Hall polling place about the lack of privacy of the voting booths and the intrusive behavior of an election judge. A report was made to Luzerne Count Head of Elections Tom Piazza and the situation was resolved.

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