November 6, 2008 - ELECTION 2008 // INLAND // Some voters turned away // INLAND POLLING PLACES: They say their names were not on the roster; others got provisional ballots
Paper: Press-Enterprise, The ( Riverside, CA)
Title: ELECTION 2008 // INLAND // Some voters turned away // INLAND POLLING PLACES: They say their names were not on the roster; others got provisional ballots
Date: November 6, 2008
Author: MICHELLE DEARMOND, THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE
Reports of polling-place problems mounted Wednesday, as voters and election watchdogs said some Inland residents were forced to use provisional ballots or even denied ballots entirely in Tuesday's presidential election.
The anecdotes in Riverside County came from Democratic Party officials, voters and even a poll worker who said many voters found their names missing from the rosters when they showed up to vote.
Many of them had sample ballots or registration cards from the Riverside County registrar confirming they were at their assigned location.
Provisional ballots often are the last ones counted because there's so much research involved in verifying whether they're valid.
Rebecca Martine, Riverside County's chief deputy registrar , said there are 38,000 paper provisional ballots and 9,000 electronic provisional ballots to be counted.
Barbara Dunmore, Riverside County's registrar of voters , sent an e-mail Wednesday promising that all the votes will be counted by the time the election is certified Dec. 2.
"I would reaffirm that this incident was isolated to less than 1 percent of voters , and all of those individuals were given an opportunity to vote in the election," Dunmore said in her statement.
Provisional ballots are used when there is a question about a voter 's eligibility. Poll workers give voters provisional ballots when their names don't appear on a precinct's rolls.
Election officials later must match the voter 's signature with their registration records and determine the person had the right to vote on the races on that ballot.
Kari Verjil, San Bernardino County's registrar of voters , said the use of provisional ballots often is high in presidential elections because many people haven't voted in a while and sometimes show up at the wrong polling places.
Verjil didn't have an exact count of provisional ballots cast in San Bernardino County, but she said the piles of sealed provisional envelopes in her office awaiting verification seem on par with a typical presidential election.
Other officials in San Bernardino County did not report any problems with voters being turned away or unnecessarily given provisional ballots.
Federal law requires voters be allowed to cast a ballot if they show up at a polling place in their county, even if their right to vote in that precinct can't be immediately confirmed, Verjil said.
Maxine Ewig with the election watchdog group Save R Vote said it was clear that not all poll workers were following the law in Riverside County.
Ewig said she received reports of problems from poll watchers from Temecula to the Coachella Valley and many cities in between.
She doesn't have final numbers yet showing how many people received provisional ballots or were turned away, but she said it appeared widespread.
Ewig said her group has been complaining about this problem for a while and hopes the registrar will look into it.
Wayne Beckham, chief-deputy registrar of voters in Riverside County, confirmed Tuesday that some voters were assigned polling places where their names couldn't be found on the roster and said his office would investigate the matter.
Beckham said late Tuesday he could not confirm reports of voters being turned away from the polls.
Mike McKelroy, a longtime Riverside voter , said he and his family went to the polling place assigned to them but were told their names weren't on the roster.
McKelroy said he's been in the same house since 1985 and hasn't made any changes to his registration.
Even more concerning, he said, was that there were Corona-Norco school board races listed on his provisional ballot, even though he doesn't live in that school district.
Traditionally, election workers evaluate provisional ballots in detail and exclude any races or measures the voter isn't authorized to participate in.
McKelroy, 64, said he was frustrated because none of the poll workers or election officials he called and spoke to could explain how those ballots would be handled.
"My question is how am I going to know that people did not vote in an election that they were not supposed to," he said.
Edition: WEST; ALL ZONES
Record Number: 847637
Copyright (c) 2008 The Press-Enterprise Co.