One thing to watch in Ohio and Texas: the performance of their voter registration systems

There’s an AP story this morning on voter registration issues, pointing out that one thing to watch regarding Ohio and Texas will be the performance of their new voter registration systems:

But Ohio and Texas have had problems getting their registration databases up and running, creating fears that it may take days to tally votes from these important contests — and Ohio knows a great deal about delays.

In the last presidential election, nearly 3 percent of voters were forced to cast provisional ballots because of registration questions after waiting in lines for as long as 14 hours.

Those paper votes, which take longer to count, helped prolong the final tally by more than a month. On December 6, 2004, then-Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell certified that George W. Bush had won Ohio by about 119,000 votes over John Kerry, a slim margin that handed Bush his second term in office.

Texas faces its own brand of problems — generated not so much by disenfranchised voters but by fed-up counties. In rural Henderson County, for instance, election officials opted for a privately run database rather than use the state’s system.

According to Texas figures, 39 of 254 counties use their own databases.

The state system was “forever going down, having glitches. We couldn’t deal with it and operate, too,” said registrar Carolyn Craig. “We got tired of dealing with it.”

Despite local grumbling, state officials say their database should run smoothly on Tuesday.

“Any problems that were out there have been identified” and corrected, said Scott Haywood, spokesman for Texas Secretary of State Phil Wilson.