Hillsborough voters incorrectly given provisional ballots

11/04/08 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

If a person is a registered voter in Florida, but then moves to a different address, she is still eligible to vote in the new precinct where she lives, even though she is not registered in that precinct. A misunderstanding of this rule by at least one Hillsborough County poll worker caused several people to cast provisional ballots or not vote at all.

John Ovink is Tampa attorney who is working Election Day as a voting rights attorney for the Democratic Party and the Barack Obama campaign at Precincts 205 and 206, the West Tampa Convention Center on Columbus Drive. He said nine people who were registered to vote, and live within the precinct, were forced to fill out provisional ballots.

But, Ovink said, people in that situation should be able to vote on normal ballots rather than be forced to vote provisionally.

WMNF contacted Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson to find out whether Ovink was correct. After checking with his staff, Johnson confirmed that Florida election law allows people to vote in the precinct where they currently live.

“If a voter is a registered voter in Florida, and they state their address in a given precinct which is not where they are registered – where our registration rolls show them, they can fill out an affirmation form and vote a regular ballot.”

Johnson said the problem that existed throughout much of Election Day at West Tampa’s precinct 205 has been cleared up.

Despite the problems, Johnson says the election process has gone well overall in Hillsborough County.

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