People who fill out absentee ballots and send them in typically assume that their votes will get counted. But for more 400 voters in Volusia County, Fla., that is not the case, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. For the Nov 6. general election, the elections office there has rejected 407 absentee ballots, saying 251 lacked voter signatures and 153 didn't match election records (153).
Daytona Beach voter Bill Archer was among those whose ballot got thrown out. In his case, his signature had changed due to recent strokes. "I hope I don't become part of voter suppression," he told the newspaper. "I've been voting for years; we filled out that registration in good faith, and then to find out I was just stricken. ... ,I didn't survive seven strokes for this."
The newspaper writes: "Archer initially thought he could provide an updated signature -- he signs initials with his left hand now, instead of his full name with his right -- but Volusia's elections supervisor Ann McFall said Wednesday that's not an option."
So his ballot could not be counted, according to the tight election rules. "Once the ballot is received in the office, it is considered to be cast," McFall told the newspaper. HuffPost inquired with the Florida secretary of state's office about absentee ballots getting rejected and was pointed to a section of Florida law that says: "An absentee ballot shall be considered illegal if it does not include the signature of the elector, as shown by the registration records." Chris Cate, a spokesman for the office, said the provision has been in place since at least 1996.
Here are some other election-related news items collected Thursday by The Huffington Post:
-- Also in Florida, former Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday urged the state's current Republican governor, Rick Scott, to extend hours for in-person early voting, which ends this Saturday night. In Miami-Dade, wait times to vote vary from 30 minutes to six hours.
Speaking in Miami Gardens, Crist said, "You cannot believe the line out here right now, it's phenomenal," according to The Miami Herald. Referring to his suggestion that early voting be extended, he added: "It's just the right thing to do."
Former state Sen. Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) also called on Scott to extend early voting because of the "absurd length of the ballot" (which includes 11 proposed constitutional amendments) and the fact that the legislature slashed the early voting period from 14 days to eight days, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Scott, a Romney supporter, appears unlikely to extend in-person early voting. A Florida election spokesman said: "We think that the hours we have right now are the best hours we've ever had."
-- A federal appeals court in Ohio ruled on Thursday that ballots cast in a wrong precinct cannot be counted, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper writes: "Voters who show up at the wrong polling place next week will be told they cannot cast a legal vote there. And if they insist on casting a provisional ballot, it will go uncounted." The ruling supercedes a decision by a federal judge in Columbus who ruled that votes cast in the wrong precinct had to be counted.
-- In Butler County, Ohio, more than 300 absentee ballots are being reviewed by the board of elections and must be fixed by the voters who cast them before they can be counted, according to the Hamilton Journal News. "Ballots can be flagged for a number of reasons, including not providing proper identification, signature discrepancies or including the ID envelope with their ballot, said Jocelyn Bucaro, deputy director of the Butler County Board of Elections," the paper reports. Officials sent notification letters to voters whose ballots had been flagged with a form that has to be filled out and sent back to the offices for the ballot to be counted.
-- Mitt Romney's campaign is planning a major, "state-of-the-art" effort to monitor polls and get out the vote on Election Day, reports Amanda Terkel in The Huffington Post. She writes: "Project ORCA will rely on 34,000 volunteers in swing states on Election Day, in an effort to keep track of who is voting at key polling places. Romney staffers will use the data to help them target their get-out-the-vote efforts before the polls close, in hopes of gaining an edge over Obama's grassroots operation." While some Democrats had feared that the project could be an attempt to suppress votes at the polls, a training packet provided to volunteers taking part in ORCA explicitly tells them not to "talk to or confront voters in any circumstances."
-- Because of Hurricane Sandy in New York and the resulting power outages, the state Board of Elections met on Wednesday and made two changes that should make it easier for New Yorkers to vote, reports The Associated Press. They extended the deadline for applying for an absentee ballot to Friday from Oct. 30. And while ballots have to be postmarked by Nov. 5, local boards of elections can now count ballots they receive until Nov. 19, instead of the original date of Nov. 13.
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