This morning, when I went to vote in Cambridge, MA (on the MIT campus), my first encounter was great — short line, friendly poll worker, familiar (and useless) “privacy sleeve,” and quick in-and-out.
However, as I was leaving, the poll worker manning the table for the other precinct at this location came over to my table and said “this guy’s not on the voter rolls and wants to vote a provisional ballot. Does anyone know anything about this?” The answer from the person staffing the table where I had checked in said, “don’t know anything about provisional ballots. If he’s not only the list, he can’t vote.” It turns out that someone eventually did know about provisional ballots, and he was given one.
However, I’ve just heard on WBUR that at at least one precinct in Cambridge (not clear which one), the voting lists that were given out date to 2004. Voters are being told that they should go back home, get the post card they were initially sent to verify their registration, and return — or go to the city election commission office — or, if they want to, to cast a provisional ballot.
I’ll report more as I find out. Hopefully, the word will get out about provisional ballots, in which case this could be less than a disaster for the People’s Republic — or, maybe the new registration lists will be found.
10:20am update: This article in the Cambridge Chronicle confirms the city-wide voter list problems.
10:40am update: This very interesting description was posted on the “my fair election” web site (which I’m beginning to get addicted to”)
Apparently there is a HUGE problem in Cambridge with the voter registration lists. At my precinct, 10/1, I was the 42nd person forced to vote through a provisional ballot, and it was only 9:15 am. I was told that there is a problem throughout Cambridge because a computer rejected tons of voters at random. I have voted at this precinct many times and never imagined I would have this problem. I just spoke to an elections official who told me that they have drivers heading out throughout the city right now (10 am) to deliver corrected voter registration lists. I was told I could go back to my precinct and tell them to discard my provisional ballot and vote again, but since I have an infant and already had to wait an hour to vote, this is not a realistic possibility for me. What makes me particularly concerned is that the poll workers were obviously overwhelmed by the huge numbers of provisional ballots and were not at all organized or prepared to handle them. When I gave the poll worker my completed provisional ballot in the envelope, I had to tell her that the provisional ballot information sheet that I filled out did not have my ballot number on it. Then after I handed her my ballot, she tossed it on a very messy table crowded with lots of other random papers. I am very worried that they will lose votes. I told the elections officer this over the phone, and she said she was going to send a commissioner there to check it out.