The 2008 election is historic in many ways, and voter involvement is expected to be the highest ever seen. On Super Tuesday, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, 12 states saw record turnouts in their Democratic primaries and eleven in their Republican contests. The Chesapeake Primary (Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC) also saw exceptionally high turnout. Especially exciting are exit polls in many states that indicate that turnout increased exponentially among historically disenfranchised communities -- in some places over 50 percent.
With the increased turnout in the primaries, we have seen increased pressure on our already burdened voting system. High turnout led to long lines at some polling stations, exacerbated by machine failures, too few ballots and too few check-in machines. Poll workers were not prepared to handle so many voters; they were inadequately trained on the use of provisional ballots and machine functions.
During some of the early the 2008 primaries, the Election Protection Coalition mobilized and dispatched trained Election Protection (EP) poll monitors to polling locations in targeted communities and provided legal support and technical assistance to citizens who experience difficulties voting. To date, EP has recorded more than 2900 incidents.
The problems seen in the early primaries are significant not only because of high numbers of incidents, but because they indicate what we might see in the upcoming Ohio Primary on March 4th. In the past, Ohio has seen its share of election problems.
This summary provides a snapshot of the types of problems and reports the EP coalition has documented and experienced during this year's primary elections and what we could potentially see in the upcoming Ohio primary. Based on the potential problems that voters could experience in Ohio, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) and other members of the EP coalition will be on the ground providing legal and informational support to voters at the polls.