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November 1, 2016

Election 2016 Provisional Ballots and Voters with Disabilities
Suggestions From A Poll Worker

M A Andrews

In the June 2016 election, Alameda County, California, I was a poll worker.

The First Problem - Provisional Ballots
Many voters were not listed on the voting rolls or their mail-in ballots had not arrived. The Judge and Inspector kept refusing to provide provisional ballots. Instead, they would demand the would-be voters go home to find their mail in ballots, call the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, or send these voters to another polling location. If the voter persisted, then a provisional ballot would be provided. This created a five to ten-minute choke point in the voting process. When did begging for ballots become the American way?

The Second Problem - Physically Compromised Voters
Accessible precincts contain adaptive equipment to enable voting for the profoundly disabled. Alas, no support was made for those physically compromised, such as pregnant women, the elderly, chemotherapy patients, users with canes, crutches, oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, or walkers.

For instance:
Voting booths are high, requiring the voter to stand.
A low table was provided, but no chair.
There was a bench to sit on, but no lap writing table.

While Alameda County provides curbside voting, this option was not offered to obviously tottering and struggling would be voters standing in line. The persistent denial of provisional ballots created a choke point. Our precinct was busy with lines. No one offered chairs, curbside voting, for those needing support. There are news reports regarding waiting in line to vote for hours. Options must be made available.
My suggestions:

The Physically Compromised Voter
A poll worker is chosen to act as a greeter.
This poll worker must be aware of the physically compromised standing in line. An option should be offered, such as a chair or curbside voting.

Provisional Ballots
Provide the provisional ballot quickly without complaint.
Have one person checking that the provisional ballot envelope is filled out correctly.

Remember Vote November 8, 2016
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