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LOCAL News :: Government & Elections

Incompetent pollworker at Louden Nelson in Santa Cruz

On the subject of voting irregularities, my partner and I both encountered an incompetent pollworker at our polling place, the Louden Nelson Center in Downtown Santa Cruz. I am wondering whether any voters there were hassled while their names were being looked up on the roll.
My partner and I have had a court-ordered change of name, so our last name is the same. My partner voted this morning before work and I voted this afternoon. My entry had already been checked off on the roll and my partner's entry was blank. This caused some confusion for the pollworker. Had another worker not intervened, I would not have been permitted to vote. When handling the voter roll, accuracy is paramount, and there is no room for errors.

It is my understanding that the same pollworker also asked someone for identification (which the person cheerfully produced) even though the request was against state policy. Identification is only required of voters who did not provide an identifying number at the time of registration. Requesting identification can intimidate voters.

I was also frustrated by the lack of an illustration for write-in voting. The sign explained the process in words only. Not showing things visually increases the risk of error.

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Why should a person be intimidated by being asked for ID? Honest people have nothing to fear from giving their name. An educated voter knows that their name is not attached to the vote.

How else can a poll worker know that the person claiming to be john doe is john doe and is entitled to vote the one time that john doe is entitled to do. This ensure that Jeff is not voting in the morning under his name and then voting under John's name in the afternoon.

Read the law!

In California, until very recently, it was illegal for pollworkers to ask for identification. With the passage of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), it became necessary to check ID for new registrants, either at the time of registration (this is accomplished by providing one's California ID/driver's license number) or at the polls on the occasion of one's first vote.

If the law does not require an ID check for a particular voter, that person should not be asked. What if those ID checks were being done specifically on voters registered with a particular party? Black voters? Women? Young people? You can imagine all kinds of inappropriate criteria that pollworkers might use. If you look at the history of voting practices in the South, you will see why this is such an important issue.

Point 1: The law does not require an ID check in most cases.

Point 2: If we want ID checks, as "George" seems to, shouldn't they be universal? I could go with that. I can't go with selective, illegal ID checks, though.


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