A few hours before the polls close, Virginia continues to be a disaster of disenfranchisement.
Voting machine breakdowns at dozens of sites, affecting voters in all parts of the state, suggest that Virginia election officials were woefully unprepared for the massive turnout that everybody predicted. Right now, Election Protection lawyers are concerned that multiple precincts in Virginia will run out of emergency back-up paper ballots.
Lawyers have asked the state to print more paper ballots because of the shortage. But according to Jon Greenbaum, director of the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, the State Board of Elections has effectively said “let’s wait until the [paper ballots] actually run out, and we’ll deal with it then.”
Way to stay ahead of the curve.
The new tactic for voter suppression is apparently to tell people still waiting in line that “due to the unprecedented turnout, voting has been extended to Wednesday.”
Rock the Vote is reporting that students in Virginia are being targeted with text messages saying “due to the long lines, Obama voters are asked to vote on Wednesday. Thank you for your cooperation.”
More line issues after the jump.
As always, the best way to avoid voter shenanigans is to actually know your rights. If you show up to vote before the polls close you have the right to vote with a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot which won’t be counted unless results are very close.
An interesting VA law will make it crucial that voters understand this “I was in line, on time” rule. VA law requires poll workers to go out at 6:45 and write down the names of everybody still standing on line. Only those names written down are allowed to vote. Election Protection lawyers wonder how workers are supposed to write down hundreds of names in fifteen minutes?
Good question. Governor Tim Kaine? The Washington Post reports:
Fresh off a stage appearance with Obama in Prince William County last night, Kaine urged people to vote before time runs out.
“Virginians are turning out in record numbers to vote in today’s historic Presidential election, despite the weather,” Kaine said in a statement. “The State Board of Elections is working closely with local election officials to make sure that voting runs smoothly, and we are confident that the problems that some precincts have encountered are being addressed promptly and resolved quickly.
“Those still waiting to vote should be aware that turnout is very heavy, but precinct volunteers are working hard to make the lines move as quickly as possible,” Kaine continued. “Voters should remember that polls close at 7 p.m. and the hours will not be extended. However, all who arrive to vote by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote notwithstanding the length of lines. We ask everyone to be patient and encourage voters to stay in line to participate in this historic event.”
In other states, the black panthers apparently still exist. Fox is reporting that they are intimidating white voters in Philadelphia with billy clubs. Of course, they could just be black men standing around outside the restricted area, but clearly the powerful glare of two black men must be taken seriously.
Otherwise, PA has apparently gotten a lot better as the day has gone on.
And then there’s Florida. The optical scan machines have broken down in at least 35 locations. At first, various election officials did the right thing: they put the ballots into a “lock-box” so they could be counted manually later.
But then the lock-boxes overflowed.
And then they started putting the ballots in duffel bags.
And then in a couple of precincts, they ran out of duffel bags.
So, in true Florida style, they just started putting the ballots on the floor.
That sound you hear is ancient Athens laughing at us, across space and time.