Democracy Groups Urge Indiana Voters Not To Accept A Provisional Ballot
NAACP, ACLU, Common Cause, Other Groups Want Voters To Insist On A Regular Ballot
We'd Like To See That Happen All Over America
In Indiana, pro-democracy and voting rights organizations are urging citizens to "call for backup" at 1-866-OUR-VOTE before accepting a provisional ballot for Tuesday's election.
We'd like to see this effort expanded to all 50 states.
Provisional ballots are given to voters when poll workers aren't sure that the person is eligible to vote, the idea being that something like a clerical error shouldn't prevent a voter from voting.
After the provisional ballot is cast, the voter is obliged to jump through some hoops to prove the validity of his/her registration. The requirements for this vary from state to state, county to county. The requirements can be onerous, and they are yet another disenfranchising barricade voters have to scale.
And more often than not, provisional ballots don't get counted. A study by the nonpartisan Pew Center found that only 36 percent of the provisional ballots were counted in the 2004 general election.
To get a provisional ballot counted in Indiana, a voter has 10 days to get to the county courthouse with proof of valid registration. Many provisional ballot voters don't bother. And of course, less than 48 hours after the election the press will announce that the election results are settled (even if the results are questionable, the press will still claim it's all over), and provisional ballots, even if "counted" three or five or ten days later won't have any effect on the election results, not only for the White House, but for all down-ticket races.
According to WIBC FM, Julia Vaughn of Common Cause Indiana claims poll workers are too quick to offer provisional ballots at the first sign of a glitch. She wants voters to resist that option, either by signing an affidavit called a "certificate of error," or by calling the national voter-rights hotline 1-866-OUR-VOTE to try to solve the problem.
And this should be the case all over America.
If they try to give you a provisional ballot on Tuesday, politely resist. Short of getting thrown out of the polling place, continue to ask for and politely insist on a regular ballot. If they still won't give you a regular ballot, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE and try to get some "back up." For all the information you need about voting in Indiana, please visit Verify The Vote Indiana.
Only accept a provisional ballot as an absolute last option. And then as soon as you possibly can, jump through whatever bureaucratic hoops they want you to jump through to get your ballot counted.
And after that, join Velvet Revolution and other voting rights groups and fight for fair, clean, verifiable elections. Fight against intimidation and disenfranchisement. Fight against flawed, easily hacked, error-prone electronic voting machines.
'Cause right after this Tuesday, we need to start getting ready for 2010.