8 Questions

Bill Turque on what to expect
on Election Day

Question 6: Could the presence of poll watchers make polling places chaotic or intimidating?

The vast majority of the nation’s more than 100,000 polling places are likely to run smoothly and uneventfully. But grass-roots organizations such as True the Vote say they will be at the polls in large numbers to look for possible fraud, such as voters who don’t display appropriate identification or attempt to vote more than once. Many states allow poll observers to challenge a voter’s eligibility based on questions about home address, citizenship or other background details. If an election official concludes that there is sufficient doubt, a voter may be asked to cast a provisional ballot, which can be counted later if new information is provided. These situations are most likely in areas with high concentrations of minority voters. Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, senior attorney for voter protection at the Advancement Project, urges voters to resist accepting a provisional ballot and seek assistance if they believe they’ve been unfairly challenged. Staff from Election Protection, a coalition of civil rights groups, will be available at many polling locations to provide help. They will be wearing black T-shirts with their phone number, 1-866-OUR-VOTE, in white lettering.

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