Chaos, Disinformation and Glitches Plague Key States -- Our Broken Election System in Action

Election '16

Pennsylvania voters—particularly in the Democratic strongholds around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh—are facing numerous headaches trying to vote, as many voters are finding that registration records are not up-to-date and poll workers are confused over the state’s strict new GOP-sponsored voter ID law, which won’t take affect until 2013.

A spokesman for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which runs the nationwide election protection hotline, said that there had been a surge of calls from the swing states of Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania as of mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Perhaps most disturbing, according to Lawyers Committee Spokesman Dan Dupont, were telephone calls being made to elderly Virgina voters telling them they did not have to go out to vote at the polls, but could tell the caller who they wanted to vote for instead. 

“There’s lots of reports of deceptive practices,” he said.

The Pennsylvania calls mostly fall into two categories. AlterNet reviewed more than 500 incident reports between 2 PM and 5 PM EST. The first category were by voters whose names were not in pollbooks or registration records but said that they had registered.

The second category concerned poll workers who were mistakenly demanding photo IDs from voters, which is what Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law requires. Even though litigation postponed that law from taking effect until next year, many poll workers apparently are unaware of that—causing tension with voters and hotline calls.

What follows are excerpts from the Election Protection incident reports

Voter ID Problems

• Philadelphia, PA: “Poll worker insisted on PHOTO ID, would not accept state voter ID.”  

• Philadelphia, PA: “Polling place turning people away because they do not have IDS.”  

• Sharon Hill, PA: “Polling location in Sharon Hill, Delaware County have "ID REQUIRED" in the voting book for a voter who is NOT a first time voter nor a first time voter in the precinct.”  

• Union City, PA: “We just got a call from a voter who went to vote in Erie County, Union City and was denied the opportunity to vote because he did not show ID. He said he has voted at that polling place before and his name was in the book.”

• Shipenville, PA: “There were signs posted at her polling place telling everyone they are required to show id.”  

• Carlisle, PA: “Voter was asked for identification at polling place in Carlisle, PA. The Pennsylvania law requiring identification was blocked for the general election. The polling place is the Carlisle Alliance Church.”  

• Pittsburgh, PA: “Poll workers are asking for IDs but no one has been turned away. There was a democratic committeeman outside the polling place explaining the real ID requirements to voters.”

• Baden, PA: “Insisting that every voter should show voter ID, intimidating voters, and causing voters to leave.”

• Doylestown, PA: “Wife and I went into polling place and repeatedly asked for photo IDs. They proceeded to ask everyone for photo ID and were questioning those whose photos did not seem to match the individuals. Complained about intimidation. Voter IDS were REQUIRED to vote at this polling site.”  

Long Lines

• Philadelphia, PA: “At least a 90 minute wait. Needs another machine for next time.”  

• Philadelphia PA: “Because of the addition of a voting division (11), this polling place is experiencing intolerably long lines (three hours). Adding to the problem is that many of the voters are residents of this nursing home, who are in wheelchairs or are otherwise disabled.”  

Voter Registration Problems

• West Chester, PA: “Student registered to vote with college address, received a voter registration card in due time and showed up at correct polling place with a proper photo voting ID. Under website and polling place, it does not show the voter as being registered or listed to vote.”

• Fairview, PA: “Voter was able to vote by provisional ballot. However, she should have been able to vote normally. The issue is that she did vote in the presidential election 4 years ago, but the poll worker told her that she was on the list of people who hadn't voted in four years.”

• Anvalusia, PA: “People have moved within the last 6mo to year from Philadelphia area to Bucks County. They have a valid PA licence, but not in registrar book. Bucks County says that canceled in old election but not registred in Bucks County.”

• Philadelphia, PA: “People are being turned away. They are saying the people are not registered although they been voting at the same place for years. Some seniors are just not voting because of the intimidation. Poll workers are not giving the correct information to voters. The lines are very long and people...”

• Erie, PA: “Daughter registered at DMV in the summer, but not on rolls; poll workers commented that other Erie residents who registered through DMV were not on the rolls.”

• Pittsburgh, PA: “20-50 voters who have not voted since 2008 were told they were purged from the registration rolls. The election protection volunteer who called to report this spoke to election officials onsite who said they were allowed to purge after 4 years.”  


• Pittsburgh, PA: “Report maker indicates that numerous voters have received text messages indicating that a straight Democratic ticket vote will not record a vote for President Obama.”  

• Philadelphia, PA: “Location: Robert Saligman House 8900 roosevelt blvd Philadelphia, PA 19115-506 --intimidation both by other voters and clerks at the poll --intimidation regarding ID requirements (not presenting all options to voters) --clerks are not able to communicate in English --no election committee members at the location.”  

• Lynwood, PA: “Disturbance at the polling location. Police were sent but need to ensure order has been restored there.”  

• East Liberty, PA: “Poll workers at E. Liberty polling location informed volunteer that Oblock jr. high school that a third party was harassing voters and following them to the booths, telling them whom to vote for.”  

Voting Machine Issues

• Pittsburgh, PA: “Problem with the polling machines...allegedly changing individuals votes Location: St. Lawrence Activity Center in Pittsburgh, PA”  

• Philadelphia, PA: “Equipment not operating. Poll worker does not know how to operate the machine or close it down at the end of the day. No emergency ballots on hand.”  

• New Florence, PA: “Voting machine mis-registered votes. Poll worker was able to fix his votes to register correctly.”  

• Pittsburgh, PA: “The voting equipment would not allow voter to select the voter for president that he wished to vote for. When he attempted to select the candidate, it would show another candidate was selected. Voter says that he has a video showing the malfunction.”  

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