Voting problems surface in Florida

11/05/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday

Voting Rights Advocates reported a number of problems at the polls. Perhaps the biggest problems statewide is optical scan ballots getting jammed and not being counted.

In some cases, blame was being cast on poll workers for folding the ballots too tightly.

Marcia Johnson-Blanco is with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She said a problem in Hillsborough County in at least two polling places – at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center and the American Legion Post on Sheldon Road - was with poll workers not being able to verify the voter's registration at the polling site, and not being able to get through to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office.

The problem with that was that in not being able to verify a voter’s basic information, giving them a provisional ballot could ensure that their vote might not count – that’s because a voter can only vote provisionally in their own precinct. But without the correct information, they could be in the wrong precinct.

There were reports in at least one polling spot in Hillsborough where voters were given one-page ballots, when in fact the ballot is two pages. One precinct had no ballots.

Later this afternoon, those same voting rights advocates held a second conference all for reporters in Florida. Derek Kurtzman from Election Protection said he’s learned that problems with the scanning machines differ throughout the state.

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