Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Election problems

A number of Greens have reported problems at the polls yesterday.

Our experience was somewhat troubling as well. Erin and I were told our precinct had been combined with another, so we had to go farther from our home to vote. When we got there, I signed in, and was asked, "Are you a Democrat, or Republican?"

I responded, "Green". The poll worker said, "huh?" and I had to repeat myself: "Green Party".

I know there are a lot of people, including registered Greens, who don't remember what party they registered with. Given the choice of taking either a Democrat or Republican ballot, how many would just take what was on offer?

Then there was only one booth set up for third parties, so Erin had to wait while I voted. Later Erin passed our old polling place, and guess what, it was still a polling place. Were only members of smaller parties forced to vote elsewhere?

Here are some of the other reports from election day, compiled from Green Party email lists:

- In Oakland, Alameda County, the Peace and Freedom party candidate for Treasurer, Gerald Sanders, was told that he could not vote in the Peace and Freedom primary as he was supposedly registered "decline to state". His wife was told she was registered in the American Independent party. Both of them, of course, are actually registered in the Peace and Freedom Party. (He couldn't have gotten on the ballot if he wasn't.)

- In LA County, a Green reported being sent a Republican absentee ballot

- Another woman complained, "I went to my polling location today, and they did not have a ballot for the Green Party. They gave me a non-partisan ballot and asked me to use this to vote. Was this the correct procedure?

-Another Green said, "FYI, we went to vote and they had no Green party ballots out, some workers and never heard of the party, but noted that the Voter list said "GR."
"What's that?" we were asked. "Green -- Green Party." Took about five minutes to rummage in the box to find the ballots."

-Another Green: "I too had problems. They had six precincts in three rooms and they kept sending me back and forth. They said I could cast a provisional ballot (because they couldn't find my address in their books) and I wouldn't have it. Eventually I found the right room on my own. All of this was before the usual hemming and hawing about my Green registration. Then they told me I couldn't do a write-in. I had to insist on my right to do that too. In the end I cast a regular ballot but only because of my own stubbornness and ingenuity."

It seems that most of these problems are the result of a lack of training or political ignorance among voluntary poll workers, who should be praised in general for their willingness to take a day off from work to run the elections. This incompetence, however, does a material disservice to the Green Party and our registered voters.

If you saw or heard about similar problems, please add your experience in the comments or email me at This is an issue the next County Council (I'm on it) will be taking up.


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