Our Voting Rights Watch community journalists are deployed around the country watching the polls today. So far, Election Protection monitors are getting lots of reports of individual dustups, particularly around the voter ID laws. James Cersonsky sends in this report from Pennsylvania:
Polling places this morning across the state have been rife with confusion—and misinformation—about photo ID requirements. NAACP field organizer Liz Lassiter told Voting Rights Watch that a voter in Hatfield was turned away for not having ID; election officials called the police when she attempted to make a phone call while continuing to wait in line. A university administrator sent us this photo showing confusing signage for student voters. And my fellow community journalist Kemi Bello reports that a Lancaster election official held aside voters who didn’t have ID, while poll watchers in Collegeville allegedly asked voters to show ID and told those who refused to present it, “Well, we’ll get your name anyway.” In a related instance of potential intimidation, a voter in Upper Darby called the Election Protection hotline saying that a man in a suit was directing voters of color away from the line and sending them to the “wrong line for the wrong precinct.”
Yesterday, civil rights and community groups in Pennsylvania released a report detailing how tea party poll watchers planned to clump in black neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area. The 59 targeted precincts in Allegheny County are over 79 percent black; the remaining precincts are less than 11 percent black (for full stats, see Daniel Denvir’s coverage at Philadelphia’s City Paper). “I’m sure they’re targeting everywhere with the same type of antics,” NAACP Vice President Jotaka Eaddy told Voting Rights Watch.
As Brentin Mock reported yesterday, nationally the place to look for potential voter suppression may not be the polls themselves today. Brentin found a list of dozens of voters in Hillsborough County, Fla., whom the tea party group Tampa Vote Fair had challenged in advance, meaning those voters would be forced to cast provisional ballots. It’s unclear how many counties received similar lists or how many voters were on them.