Indiana News

Watchdog Groups Urge Voters to Reject Provisional Ballots

Groups hope to settle challenges at polls; feds will monitor fraud claims

10/28/2008

The NAACP and Common Cause are urging voters challenged at the polls to call for backup rather than casting provisional ballots.

Voting provisionally is supposed to ensure people who really are properly registered don't lose their vote to some kind of foulup. But four out of five provisionals are thrown out.

Julia Vaughn with Common Cause contends most provisional ballots really are valid. She says the problem is with a system that requires challenged voters to make a trip to the county courthouse within 10 days to present proof of registration. Vaughn says many people just give up.

Vaughn says many pollworkers 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.

Common Cause, the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, Concerned Clergy, the Indianapolis Resource Center for Independent Living, and the IUPUI chapter of Democracy Matters plan to station volunteers in black "Election Protection" T-shirts in 150 of the county's polling places to try to solve problems on the spot.

The Justice Department says F-B-I agents and an assistant U-S attorney will be on call to handle allegations of obstacles to voting or charges of voter fraud.
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