Letter: Provisional ballot claims ‘a bit terrifying’
Susan Richardson's claims in an April 19 letter ("Provisional ballots are a common-sense solution") are a bit terrifying: "[T]he current election system provides no authority for blocking a known ineligible person from casting a ballot if the ineligible person swears they are allowed to vote," etc. She states that even if a felon has lost the right to vote, and records at the polling place indicate that, they can vote anyhow.
She supports legislation which would require a challenged voter to cast a provisional ballot, which would then be put in a pile and reviewed later, adding time and cost to the election process and possibly delaying election results.
Currently, various state departments supply the secretary of state's office with the names of those ineligible to vote, including felons and those judged mentally incompetent. Those names are provided to poll workers. Then if they challenge a prospective voter, that person can take an oath swearing that they are indeed eligible (data-entry errors, for example, often occur). Lying under oath is a felony, and Secretary of State Steve Simon says that "Law enforcement and county officials vigorously follow up with voters who swear eligibility." Does Richardson actually think a convicted felon, in that situation, is going to risk going back to prison in order to cast one vote? Or that someone here illegally will risk deportation?
Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, author of the proposed legislation, had an interesting reason for supporting the change, stating that an elderly poll worker such as a "70-year-old grandmother" might not be up to the job of challenging a voter at the polls. Seriously? We've stood up to teenagers and grandkids — by now we've got the intimidation thing down cold.
Of course, no one has any examples showing that our current system is not working. So once again, a solution in search of a problem. Don't we have better things to spend our money on?