Here we go, into yet another election year with the SAME voting equipment and nonsense. Other than scream, rant, write, and call to our state officials, Pollworkers for Democracy provides us with some great tips in observing our local election facilities and what to do if you observe suspicious activity:
Electronic Voting Systems
Be painfully sure, wherever possible, to include in your notes any specific details available such as:
- Serial numbers from machine
- Time of day
- Precinct location
Know that these specific details are the make-or-break difference between “anecdote” and “evidence” at the end of the day.
Below is a summary of potential mishaps to document for the EIRS:
Machine failure (Blank screen, fails to power up, freezes, delays opening of polls, other. Include serial number, length of any delays, and how problem was handled.)
Machine records voter preference incorrectly (Premarks choice, differs from paper trail printout, switches vote to another candidate on initial screen or in final summary screen – note the difference, voter cannot change vote displayed, other. Include serial#, and whether or not machine was taken out of service.)
Voter access card problem (Times out, locks out voter, gets stuck or left in machine, other.)
User interface issues (Screen has poor readability, flickering, dim, skipping, buttons stick, other. Include serial number.)
Language issues (Voter language not available, switches languages, translation problems, other.)
Disabled access issues (Wheelchair inaccessibility, audio, braille, or magnification inadequate or unusable, accessibility attachments don’t work, machine gives person unable to use hands no means to vote, other. Include serial number.)
Straight ticket issues (In areas with straight party ticket voting, cannot vote straight party ticket, cannot change selected offices, straight party choice fails to cast vote for party’s candidate in one or more races, others. Include serial number.)
Security issues (Machines stored in unlocked location, memory cards not secured, machine connected to telephone line or wire during Election Day, machine uses wireless connection, seals broken or missing, other. Include serial number if possible.)
Paper trail issues (Printer jams, prints over previous entries, not visible, differs from vote, other. Include serial number.)
Other important issues to note:
Provisional ballot issues (Failure to offer provisional ballot to any voter not on voter lists, mishandling of provisional ballots, other.)
Emergency paper ballot issues (In touchscreen precincts, emergency paper ballots not on hand in case of equipment breakdown, other.)
Ballot display issues on touchscreens (One or more candidates or questions are missing from the ballot displayed, incorrect ballot is displayed, other. Include serial number.)
Ballot issues on optiscans (Ballot is already marked, scanner rejects ballot though ballot is in good order; scanner mangles ballot, other. Include serial number.)
Touchscreen fails to report that vote has been accepted
Error messages appear on the touchscreen
Machine has incorrect time of day
Technicians, repairpersons working on one of the voting machines
Memory cards are replaced on Election Day (before, during or after voting)
Modems can’t connect
Machine does not print precinct results
“Rather than addressing the reasons that some voters are initially determined to be ineligible—and then allowing them to cast regular ballots that will be counted—many eligible voters are now encouraged to cast provisional ballots, under the misimpression that their provisional ballots will definitely be counted. This suppression of actual voting and its replacement with provisional voting that often does not count disenfranchises voters and threatens our democracy.” — People For the American Way
Provisional ballots should be provided to voters whose names are not on the rolls or who do not possess required ID. However, poll workers should do everything possible to help an eligible voter cast a regular ballot. Most provisional ballots are never counted.
- If a voter’s name is not on a roll because he is in the wrong precinct, he should be sent to his correct precinct to cast a regular ballot.
- If a voter does not have ID but could return to her home or vehicle to get ID, it is preferable that she do so and cast a regular ballot rather than a provisional ballot.
- Poll workers can play a key role in ensuring that all eligible voters cast a regular ballot and that provisional ballots be provided only when it is absolutely not possible to obtain a regular ballot.
Emergency Paper Ballots:
Every precinct with electronic voting machines should have an ample supply of emergency paper ballots on hand in the event of a voting machine failure. Again and again in 2006, faulty or missing equipment has delayed the opening of polls by 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours. These delays have unacceptably forced many voters to be turned away, or to vote on provisional ballots. Neither option qualifies as an adequate solution. First, working Americans often have narrow windows of opportunity to vote on Election Day. Second, there are few guidelines for the handling of provisional ballots, and no real guarantee that a provisional ballot will be counted.
There are powerful forces in this country working to take the hard-fought right to vote away from some of our most vulnerable citizens – students, immigrants, African Americans, and the poor.
Incidents of voter intimidation – primarily in low-income and minority voting districts – did not end with the passage of the landmark Civil Rights legislation. As a pollworker, you will be in a unique position to identify and stop voter intimidation at your polling place.
Common types of voter intimidation:
- An off duty (or on duty) police car is parked at the entrance to a polling place in a low income or minority neighborhood. Or a uniformed police officer or sheriff’s department employee is stationed at the poll.
- Individuals dressed as security guards or police patrol voting sites in low-income or minority areas. These individuals – while not law enforcement officials – imitate an official look in an attempt to intimidate potential voters. In the past, these individuals have been documented asking voters for identification in an attempt to prevent them from entering the polling place.
- Law enforcement agents or individuals dressed as security officers record license plate numbers in a polling place parking area in an attempt to scare voters away from the polls.
- Flyers posted near a polling place that mistate the hours of voting, the date of the election, or suggest that voters will be checked for outstanding warrants or delinquent child support payments when attempting to vote.
If you witness these or other forms of voter intimidation near your polling place, report it to the county election officer immediately. Record details of the incident, provide it to us in your Post-Election Online Interview, and/or your media as appropriate.
Barriers to voting at the polling place:
“Long lines at the polls constitute a form of voter suppression because they can compel eligible voters to give up on waiting or discourage people from even showing up at the polls. The problem is usually caused by an inadequate number of voting booths, faulty voting equipment, a lack of poll workers, or poorly trained poll workers who are not able to move voters through the process efficiently. While long lines can suppress the vote in any precinct, evidence indicates that such lines often form at polling places that are frequented by students, people of color, and low-income voters who often do not have the time or the resources to wait many hours.” — People For the American Way
When an eligible voter makes an attempt to vote by appearing at the polls, a poll worker must do everything in his or her power to help that voter be successful. Barriers to access can include the following:
- Long lines at the polls – requiring voters to wait for hours to cast a ballot – can disenfranchise those who cannot afford to be late to work or school, those with child care responsibilities, and those who cannot stand for long periods of time to name a few.
- In most states, if a voter is in line to vote (inside or outside a polling place) at the time the polls are scheduled to close, he or she must be allowed to vote. Know your state’s rules about polling place opening and closing times and ensure that all voters who arrive at the polls before closing time are allowed to vote.
- Incidents have been documented in which voters with young children were incorrectly informed that they were not allowed to bring their kids into the polling place. Poll workers must ensure that parents aren’t required to choose between caring for their children and exercising their right to vote.
- Most states ensure the right to receive ballots in Spanish and other dominant languages. Know what the rules are for your state and make sure your fellow poll workers offer ballots in required languages to all who request them.
- Most states allow voters to be assisted by the person of their choice if they need help completing their ballot. Know what the rules are for your state and make sure your fellow poll workers do not interfere with a voter’s right to help from a person of her choosing.
- Most states allow voters to vote in their vehicles if the polling place is inaccessible to them. But often, voters are not afforded this right. As a poll worker you can make sure that your polling place provides the necessary assistance to allow disabled voters to vote in their cars.
This is great information. Thank you Pollworkers for Democracy.