Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Common Cause Election Day Update

From the inbox, and posted also on the Common Cause website:

Pennsylvania Morning Rush Wrap-Up

This morning I was asked to monitor my old home state of Pennsylvania for the Common Cause Protect the Vote project. Our operations in PA are aided by more than 80 poll monitors across the state and by the operations of our colleagues in the Election Projecting coalition. Here is what we learned:

Perhaps the biggest news maybe that Philadelphia Election Authorities may not count emergency ballots cast by voters because of broken machines until Friday. John Bonifaz of Voter Action is challenging the decision but if the vote is close tonight it might be that we won’t have the results in Pennsylvania until Friday. Under the law, these ballots are to be treated the same as regular ballots.

Overall Pennsylvania is receiving the second most calls on the 1-888 Our-Vote hotline, just behind New York. The majority of problems are occurring in Philadelphia, Allegheny and Delaware counties. Like elsewhere in the country the primary problems people are experiencing deal with long lines caused by high voter turnout, voting machine breakdowns, and too few poll workers. Another issue particular to the poll workers in Pennsylvania deals with the amount and type of training they receive to prepare for Election Day. The law requires that counties “instruct election officers in their duties,” but does not specifically require that each election officer be trained before s/he serves.

Below are some other issues that have arisen during the course of the morning vote that we will be monitoring throughout the day.

* Voter suppression efforts have been reported in Pittsburgh, Allentown, Redding and parts of Philadelphia prior to Election Day. New reports have come in from Pottsville, Pennsylvania of deceptive practices warning voters if they vote they will have to pay their parking tickets.
* Common Cause enlisted the help of actor Danny Glover to record a phone message to watch out for deceptive practices designed to suppress vote. The automated calls were directed to over 300,000 households in Pennsylvania and Virginia where misleading fliers had been discovered.


* The presence of Armed police (Constables) is causing concern among some voters in Reading and Wilkes-Barre. Also, in Wayne County Common Cause poll workers were being told by the Constables there they did have permission to monitor the polls; this was corrected with the Wayne County Election Authorities.
* Bucks County voters experiencing registration problems are meeting resistance when they ask for provisional ballots.
* State College: A polling place in Osceola Mills is blaring partisan radio station.
* Students at the University of Pittsburgh and State College are being asked to fill out provisional ballots for a variety of reasons; this includes situations where the students are on the voter registration rolls. The situation has led to long lines and confusion.
* In Allentown there is concern over Hispanic precincts with unusually low turnout this morning. The worry is that this is a result of deceptive practices urging Hispanics to vote only during finite hours.

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