Thursday, January 10, 2013

Election Chaos in Virginia

1) Insufficient equipment and staffing at polling places. Voters in Arlington County, Chesterfield County, Norfolk, and Prince William County complained of long lines and insufficient numbers of poll workers. Virginia State Board of Elections Secretary Donald Palmer told ThinkProgress that while a few jurisdictions shortage of poll workers, lack of equipment was a more widespread problem. “The long lines were the result of people waiting for a voting system. Virginia localities utilize a large number of electronic voting systems (DREs) and there is no way to purchase or acquire new or additional DREs to meet the highest possible demand for voting equipment. Virginia will need to provide resources for localities to transition to paper based voting systems, which will increase overall capacity to meet high numbers of voters and the speed of the voting process.”'

2) Confusion among poll workers about the the state’s voter ID laws. While Virginia’s revised voter ID law requires voters to present one form of identification, several voters complained that local election officials improperly demanded too much. In Arlington County, Henrico County, Newport News, Prince William County, Richmond, and Washington County, voters were allegedly asked for multiple forms of ID or had their valid ID rejected (the chief election official in Prince William County assure the state board that the allegation against that county was incorrect). A voter in Chesterfield County claimed that a “large handmade sign on poster paper that listed the forms of identification allowed,” but “neglected to indicate that a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck indicating the name and address of the voter was acceptable.” Secretary Palmer told ThinkProgress the state conducted multiple voter ID trainings for local election officials and that “there were relatively few complaints from voters on the issue of ID on election day.” He added that the state provides official posters listing acceptable forms of ID and that “it would be a rare case in which a hand-made poster would be permitted inside a polling place,” but promised to look into the matter.

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