Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Do provisional ballots get counted?

This is a follow-up to my previous post. Journalist Greg Palast, who investigated irregularities in how the vote was counted in Florida in 2000 and again in 2004 in Ohio, believes that Tuesday's US election could yet be stolen by the Republicans. The theft will have entailed removing millions of registered voters from the lists. This may sound incredible, but Palast assures us that it has happened before:
Here's an ugly little secret about American democracy: We don't count all the votes. In 2004, based on the data from the US Elections Assistance Commission, 3,006,080 votes were not counted: "spoiled," unreadable and blank ballots; "provisional" ballots rejected; mail-in ballots disqualified.

This Tuesday, it will be worse. Much worse.

Palast explains how even six million votes could go uncounted in 2008:
The answer is the GOP's secret weapon, the Help America Vote Act, signed by George Bush in 2002. . . .

Help America Vote empowered secretaries of state to remove fraudulent and suspicious voters from the voter registries. It was the trick used by Katherine Harris in Florida in 2000 when she purged "felon" voters. Except they weren't felons. And now her GOP confrères are doing it in dozens of states, calling folks felon voters, "inactive" voters, suspect voters, whatever.
According to Palast, rather than preventing another Florida recount of 2000, "'Help America Vote' Floridated the entire nation."* In fact, Palast has found that 19.4 percent of Colorado's voters have already been removed from the voter registration lists.

Concerning the so-called "Provisional Ballots," Palast writes:
So, what happens to the purged voters? They're told to scram when they arrive to vote or, if they squawk, they get a "provisional" ballot on which they can pretend to vote.

Now, here are the facts about provisionals: they don't get counted. And there are lots of them. The great unreported story of the 2004 election was that there were more than three million voters shunted to provisional ballots. Over a million (1,090,000) were never counted, just chucked in the dumpster. That's what caused Kerry to lose New Mexico, Iowa and Ohio. This time, because of Help America Vote and a Republican campaign to challenge voters, the number of provisionals will rise, as will rejections.

Whatever keeps you from getting a real ballot - purged name, for example - keeps you from having the provisional counted as well. That's because Democrats won the right of every voter to get a provisional ballot, but not the right to have that ballot counted. And how many will go uncounted? Double the 1.1 million loss in 2004 - not just because of the GOP's purge-mania, but because of a vicious little codicil in Help America Vote that went into effect since the last election.
I suggest you read the whole article.
* photo of a tap. "'Help America Vote' Floridated the entire nation." Most tap water in the US is "fluoridated" (water fluoridation, by the way, is a scam).


  1. I can say that I'm a republican, and I registered to vote, through, I believe, a democratic group where I live. However, when I went to vote today, I was not on the list. I had to do a provisional ballot, so it's not only democratic votes that get "thrown out".


  2. T. L. DeaverNovember 05, 2008

    I have been registered at the same address since 1994, voted at the same precinct every election, until this evening when my name is not on the voter roles. I have my registration card , yet am only offered a provisional ballot. I decline and call the hot line. They find I am registered yet mysteriously my address has been changed to some place far south in the city, where I've never lived, or ever been. I have lived at the same address for 16 years I am sad and angry.


Because all comments on this blog are moderated, there will be some delay before your comment is approved.