Interesting things going on in the lead up to the Election. Some people have gone so stir crazy that they’re arguing if you should be able to wear your McCain-Palin button in the voting booth:
The ACLU of Virginia today urged the State Board of Elections to allow voters to wear T-shirts with political messages when they vote Nov. 4.
Electioneering is prohibited within 40 feet of the polling place, and some registrars have interpreted this to mean a ban on wearing T-shirts and lapel stickers that promote a candidate.
I’m sort of torn on this. On one hand, I can’t really see how it makes sense when we’re going to express ourselves via the ballot why we can’t express our other right to free speech. I can see why they would want to create a perimeter around the polling place where no persuasive messages can be, but the campaign’s logo? Still, I’m sure there’s someone out there who votes by the logo……at any rate, the State Board of Elections said no:
Virginia voters won’t be allowed to wear clothing featuring John McCain or Barack Obama when they head to the polls on Nov. 4.
The State Board of Elections on Tuesday voted to ban clothing and hats as well as buttons and other paraphernalia that directly advocate the election or defeat of a specific candidate or issue.
The American Civil Liberties Union argued that the ban violates the First Amendment’s right to free speech. The board, however, said it has to weigh that against the right to vote free of undue influence or the tension that candidate advocacy might create.
I’m glad that they got that one figured out, but a recent report seems to indicate that their may be more serious problems waiting for voters at the polls on Election Day:
The Advancement Project, which advocates the need for voters to vote efficiently, specifies Fairfax County and Alexandria as being among the worst resourced and ill-prepared jurisdictions in the seven battleground states examined.
“We are concerned that they do not have enough polling place resources,” says Jim Freeman of the Advancement Project. “There may not be enough machines, enough privacy booths, enough poll workers.”
The report says that the Virginia jurisdictions may face extremely long lines, and may not be able to accommodate all voters in the allotted 13 hours. The report also says the jurisdictions lack an adequate number of poll workers to compensate for the potential increase in turnout.
The lack in resources is expected to have a disproportionate affect on high-minority precincts, where the numbers were lower than low-minority precincts. The report states that a mis-allocation of resources could violate the Voting Rights Act.
Closer to home, registrars are trying to assuage fears of corruption at the polls:
Virginia Board of Elections Deputy Secretary Valerie Jones said the commonwealth has not experienced major issues mostly because of the tight scrutiny officials apply in approving the registrations.
“In Virginia, once we get an application, we have to verify that the Social Security number on the application matches with one of our databases,” she said. “We also look at the date of birth, if it has a legitimate address and if that person has been convicted of any felonies.”
Jones said she was not aware of any recent issues of mass registration fraud in Virginia, and said if officials suspect anything, they report the incident immediately to the authorities.
As local registrars’ offices continue sorting though the hundreds of applications submitted before Monday’s deadline, they too say they don’t see registration fraud as an issue here.
Mary Alice Downs, the registrar in Waynesboro, said while there were indications a few weeks back that some people were creating a small number of fraudulent applications, their system of cross-checking the information kept them from going through.
“We even have duplicate checks that make sure someone’s Social Security number isn’t used multiple times,” she said. “That was a problem in Ohio when people were registering more than once.”
Staunton Registrar Amanda DiMeo said the relatively small size of the locality is one of the reasons she has not seen any indication of registration fraud.
“I’ve heard some issues in areas like Norfolk where groups have to meet quotas in registering people and it’s easier to make up an address,” she said. “But here, we really haven’t had any issues fortunately because we are not targeted like that.”
Still, vigilance will definitely be needed in securing the ballot this fall, not just from seasoned election officials but also from concerned election officials. Go to our volunteer page to sign up to be a poll watcher or click here to get involved with the McCain-Palin campaign’s Election Day Operation effort, particularly if you legal training. People are needed around the country, but with Virginia at ground zero, I’m sure opportunities are available here.
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