Huffpost Politics

Palm Beach County Voters Get The Absentee Ballot Shaft: Today's Votes Of Incompetence

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EARLY VOTING
Problems with early voting and other election snafus continue to mount across the country. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Steve Griffin) | AP

A Florida county that was the focus of national attention for ballot-counting issues in 2000 is back under the spotlight with electoral problems this year. The latest issue? At least 77 voters in Palm Beach County who requested absentee ballots had to wait weeks for them or still haven't received them , reports The Palm Beach Post.

One possible explanation, according to the chief of a local postal workers union, is that the elections office may have incorrectly coded some of the ballots. But county elections supervisor Susan Bucher "denied that either the bar codes or lack of postage caused delays that have absentee voters worried and angry," according to the Post.

The Obama campaign's chief counsel in Florida, Steven Rosenthal, sent Bucher a letter on Wednesday asking why "scores" of voters hadn't received their ballots yet.

Regardless of the reason for the holdup, frustration is mounting among some voters. Joe and Amanda Wilcox, who are from Lake Worth, Fla., but are stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., have not yet received absentee ballots from Palm Beach County despite requesting them at least three times since September.

"We're angry. We want to vote. We have a right to vote. It's one of our rights, and it's pretty much being taken away from us because it's not like we can vote here. Our only choice is to vote in Florida. But we can't vote in Florida because no one will send us our ballot," Amanda Wilcox told CBS 12.

In West Palm Beach, a woman named Mona Reis has addressed a different voting problem by filing a lawsuit against Bucher. The elections supervisor reportedly told Reis that her absentee ballot won't count in the general election because her signature on the ballot did not match the signature the county had on file.

Reis' lawyer, Louis Silber, told WPBF, "So she said, 'Well, can I vote in person, or can I vote some other way?' And the supervisor told Mona that your voting experience is now over. So we've filed this lawsuit."

Here are some other election-related news items collected Friday by The Huffington Post:

A Texas purge of voter registrations made many mistakes, including incorrectly matching the names of some state residents with deceased people around the country and then threatening to drop the Texans from the voter rolls, according to the Houston Chronicle. "Voters in legislative districts across Texas with heavy concentrations of Hispanics or African-Americans were more often targeted in that flawed purge effort, according to the Chronicle's analysis of more than 68,000 voters identified as possibly dead," the paper writes.

A woman in Prince George's County, Md., says she tried to vote early for President Barack Obama but the voting machine defaulted to Mitt Romney, MyFoxDC.com reports. "I went back and my 'X' was under Mitt Romney," she told the TV station. "I was very disgusted. I was upset, like what is going on here?" An election worker helped her fix the ballot.

An elections worker in Clackamas County, Ore., is under criminal investigation for possible voter fraud, reports the Willamette Week. "Sources familiar with the incident say their understanding is that the woman filled in a straight Republican ticket on the ballots where preferences had been left blank by voters," the paper writes.

In Cook County, Ill., a number of voters who needed to complete their registrations were mistakenly sent the personal information of other voters, Palatine Patch reports. Officials said they've emailed all voters who could have been affected and assured that the personal information sent out "should not pose a risk of identity theft."

A record 22-inch-long ballot in Saginaw Township, Mich., may have driven many voters to request absentee ballots this year, reports MLive.com. "When they come in for a ballot, they want to take it home and research the proposals and make a decision," said Saginaw Township Clerk Shirley Wazny. "It's great they want to be informed citizens."

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus looks at the pros and cons of early voting. She praises its convenience but says it undermines the "quadrennial ritual" of everyone voting together on Election Day. She adds, "Early voting is the civic manifestation of the modern age: fragmented, individualistic and solitary."

HuffPost Live host-producer Jacob Soboroff writes that it's time to move Election Day to the weekend so that more people can vote. "The United States is the world's most famous democracy, yet we rank near the bottom of all nations in voter turnout," Soboroff argues. "So why, when U.S. Census data says most Americans don't vote because it's inconvenient, do we vote on Tuesday smack in the middle of the week? Because it was -- ironically -- convenient for people that traveled by horse and buggy when the law was set in 1845."

Follow Daniel Lippman on Twitter at @dlippman.

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