Pos­si­ble so­lu­tions to po­ten­tial prob­lems on Elec­tion Day

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL -

This year's pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is the first to be held with­out a key en­force­ment pro­vi­sion of the fed­eral Vot­ing Rights Act, lead­ing some ex­perts to warn about pos­si­ble trou­ble at the polls. Some key con­cerns and how vot­ers can get help:

Miss­ing names

State and lo­cal elec­tion of­fi­cials reg­u­larly re­move vot­ers from their lists, a process known as purg­ing. Ex­perts say the process is critical for en­sur­ing ac­cu­rate and up-to-date in­for­ma­tion, but it also can pose a risk that el­i­gi­ble vot­ers will be re­moved.

In 2006, a state court or­dered Ken­tucky to re­verse its purge after it was re­vealed that peo­ple on the list for mov­ing out of state had in fact not moved. Two years ear­lier, Florida of­fi­cials re­versed a plan to re­move 48,000 sus­pected felons from the voter rolls after it was re­vealed that many of them were still el­i­gi­ble to vote.

Just last month, a fed­eral ap­peals court ruled Ohio's process for main­tain­ing its voter rolls wrong­fully re­moved el­i­gi­ble peo­ple based on their fail­ure to vote in re­cent elec­tions. Ge­or­gia has a sim- ilar pol­icy, which also is be­ing chal­lenged in fed­eral court. Lawyers in the Ge­or­gia case say roughly 372,000 vot­ers were purged be­tween 2012 and 2014.

Ex­perts say vot­ers whose names are miss­ing from the rolls when they show up to vote should in­sist on cast­ing a pro­vi­sional bal­lot and call­ing a voter as­sis­tance group.

Long waits

Long lines can be a sign of voter en­thu­si­asm, but be­come a prob­lem if peo­ple choose to leave with­out cast­ing a bal­lot be­cause of the wait.

Dur­ing the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the key bat­tle­ground state of Florida had the long­est av­er­age wait time of all states — 45 min­utes, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts. Eight states had an av­er­age wait time of less than five min­utes.

This year, sev­eral large coun­ties in Florida have ex­panded their early vot­ing hours in an ef­fort to at­tract more vot­ers and re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of long lines.

Ex­perts en­cour­age vot­ers to take ad­van­tage of early vot­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties if avail­able.

Who to call

The U. S. Elec­tion As­sis­tance Com­mis­sion en­cour­ages those who ex­pe­ri­ence vot­ing-re­lated prob­lems to con­tact their state or lo­cal elec­tion of­fice for in­for­ma­tion on how to file a com­plaint. Com­plaints also can be regis­tered with the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice at 1-800-253-3931 or vot­ing.sec­[email protected]­doj.gov

Var­i­ous groups also of­fer as­sis­tance, in­clud­ing the non­par­ti­san Elec­tion Pro­tec­tion coa- lition. The group can be reached at 1-866-OURVOTE or on­line at http:// www.866our­vote.org .

The cam­paigns

The Clin­ton cam­paign has a voter hot­line to as­sist those who have ques­tions about how to reg­is­ter or the lo­ca­tion of their polling place. It also will have vol­un­teer lawyers avail­able to as­sist vot­ers.

The Trump cam­paign did not re­spond to an email seek­ing in­for­ma­tion on its voter as­sis­tance ef­forts.

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