Voter Suppression Attempt in Philly

Philadelphia Daily News, GOP fails in effort to move polls:

REPUBLICAN OPERATIVES working to re-elect President Bush submitted last-minute requests in Philadelphia on Friday to relocate 63 polling places.

Bush's Pennsylvania campaign staff filed the requests, using the names of two Republicans running for the U.S. Congress and seven Republican ward leaders.

Of the 63 requests for changes, 53 are in political divisions where the population of white voters is less than 10 percent. …

Bob Lee, voter registration administrator for the City Commission, said the requests appear to be “discriminatory” and were filed too late to be eligible for a hearing on Wednesday.

“They're trying to suppress the vote,” Lee said of Republicans. …

Lee, who has worked for the commission for 21 years, said he became suspicious of the requests because of the last-minute timing, the unusually high number and the locations. …

Requests are sent to hearings before the City Commission after public notices are posted for five days at the polling place, the proposed new polling place and three other places in the division.

Lee said the City Commission on Wednesday will hold its last hearing on polling place changes before the Nov. 2 election.

Since the requests came in on Friday afternoon, he said, there is not time for the public notices.

Then, the understatement of the week,

The requests could potentially confuse voters. The city has already ordered postcards mailed to 1.1 million registered voters before Election Day, directing them to polling places.

Which is of course the whole point. Undoubtedly, Philadelphia is not the only place this will happen. And in Florida, if you vote in the wrong place, your vote will not be counted (FWIW, the court reached the only possible conclusion given the wording of the state legislation).

Meanwhile, in Michigan, the Justice Department has just moved to block a Democratic lawsuit challenging a similar rule blocking the counting of 'provisional ballots' when a registered voter appears at the wrong precinct.

Why can't we allow people to vote in Post Offices or something? And why, in this computerized age, is it necessary to force people to vote in a given precinct?

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3 Responses to Voter Suppression Attempt in Philly

  1. Mojo says:

    I think it’s particularly strange that the judge in Ohio made the opposite ruling, even though that state required that the person be directed to the correct polling place so they’d still have an opportunity to vote legally (which I thought was reasonable). I’m almost relieved that I live in a state that is so profoundly Republican that my vote won’t matter anyway.

  2. BuggyQ says:

    {And why, in this computerized age, is it necessary to force people to vote in a given precinct?}

    It isn’t. And in some areas, this issue is being addressed. Larimer County, Colorado has gone to Vote Centers, where anyone from any precinct can vote. It’s a pilot program here, but it worked so well in the primary that I suspect it will become the norm very quickly. The Vote Centers are linked via the Internet, so once a person votes at any given Vote Center, their status is changed to “voted” at every Center. The Vote Centers are larger than the traditional precinct sites, and there are many more poll workers to deal with potential issues so as to prevent a voting logjam.

    If more states don’t go to this system soon, I’ll be very curious why.

  3. Ned says:

    re: Why can’t we allow people to vote in Post Offices or something? And why, in this computerized age, is it necessary to force people to vote in a given precinct?

    Here in Switzerland around half the people vote by mail, and in some cantons/states the proportion is more than 90%. In my canton of Zurich ballots are sent out automatically to all citizens eligible to vote. You fill out your ballot, put it in the unmarked envelope provided (preserves secrecy of your vote), sign the registration form, and send everything in with a prepaid envelope, also provided. If you prefer you can also drop off your ballot at a polling station on election day. Obviously there is a very solid paper trail with this method, and it’s very convenient for the voter.

    Conceivably a similar situation could develop in the U.S. if most people requested absentee ballots. I get my ballots without a special request, and even without registering, but there is a downside as far as privacy is concerned: You don’t have to register to vote because you have anyhow been registered with your local authorities either since you were born or since you entered the country [the first condition is superfluous if you consider being born a way to enter the country…]. The authorities therefore know the address of essentially everyone.

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