Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

HB 1256 would eliminate provisional ballots -- but why?

At times like this, one must wonder whether we have people in the legislature who don't have as much sense as God gave a goose.

Representatives Roach, Holmquist and Schindler (Republicans all) have sponsored House Bill 1256, which would eliminate the use of provisional ballots.

If enacted, their bill would create two entirely different voting procedures -- one for state and local elective offices and measures, and one for federal elective offices.

Section 302 of the federal law called the "Help America Vote Act of 2002" requires the use of provisional ballots in "an election for federal office."

So, if provisional ballots were eliminated from use in state and local elections, they would still be required whenever a federal office is on the ballot.

Aside from the complications that would be introduced by HB 1256, what good reason is there for eliminating provisional ballots?

Whenever an eligible, registered voter appears at the polls and is informed that the poll book doesn't show that voter's name, the provisional ballot allows the voter to cast a ballot which can later be rejected or accepted once the voter's status is confirmed.

What would happen without the use of a provisional ballot when an eligible, registered voter's name is omitted from the poll book by error?

That voter would be denied the right to cast a ballot in state and local elections on that particular election day.

Is there some good reason for denying the right to vote when a voter is the victim of a clerical error?


Unfortunately, the procedure followed by our legislature doesn't include a requirement that sponsors of bills explain in writing the rationale they believe supports passage of their bills.

So, we may never know what went through the minds of these three Republicans when they introduced this bill.

Surely, the bill will not get past the State Government Operations and Accountability Committee -- assuming there are people on that committee who have more sense than Rep. Schindler, their fellow committee member.


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