Monday, April 03, 2006

More problems with the registrar of voters

an e-voting kioskThese articles are a few days old and have already been discussed on some Green email lists, but I thought they deserved a mention here, especially considering the discussion below regarding Byron De Lear's problem with the registrar. (He ended up paying the difference because they wouldn't allow him the chance to gather more signatures).
[SF Chronicle]More than 25 percent of the new registration forms sent to the state since Jan. 1 have been returned to the counties, most because they lack the driver's license, state identification or Social Security numbers now required by federal law...The number is even higher in sprawling Los Angeles County, where 43 percent of the registrations this year have been sent back to the county. Each rejected registration means extra work for county election officials, who have to personally contact each voter, by mail or by telephone, to collect the needed information...

Under the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, states, not counties, are responsible for maintaining a centralized voter-registration database. Every voter in California must provide either a driver's license number, a state identification card number, the last four digits of a Social Security number or a unique number provided by the state. Each then must be verified by the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration. If the information doesn't match, the person can't vote.

...In November, California became the first state in the nation to comply with the new voter database requirements. The voter-registration records provided by each county are checked against not only DMV records but also with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California Department of Health Services, allowing for comparison with felon and death records.

...State election officials insist they are doing everything possible to ease the way for would-be voters. While the state requires an exact match with the numbers on the driver's license, identity card or Social Security record, the first names aren't considered on the state records... That means a voter registration card for Bob Jones and a driver's license for Robert Jones would count as a match as long as the same driver's license number was listed on both documents.

[LA Times]In Los Angeles County, the database rejected 14,629 people — 43% of those who registered from Jan. 1 to March 15. Officials are trying to resolve the problems in time for municipal elections April 11 in 14 cities in the county. They say the challenge will be far larger for the June 6 primary, which will involve many more voters.

...How the new system "is bogging down the process is now extremely significant and will become catastrophic as we approach the major election in June," said Conny McCormack, Los Angeles County registrar. McCormack said that in busy election seasons, her office receives more than 20,000 registration forms a day. Two-thirds of those come from registered voters changing their names, party affiliations or addresses. The deadline for registering to vote in the June 6 primary is May 22.

...State Sen. Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey), who chairs the Senate elections committee and is running in the Democratic primary to challenge [Sec. of State Bruce] McPherson, said: "We're looking at the potential for thousands and thousands of people to lose the right to vote." McPherson's office said that even after the election, counties have 28 days to check provisional ballots and fix flawed registrations.

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