Problems with mail-in ballots in California. Overcrowded polling places in Arizona. Missing names on the voter rolls in New York. Those are just some of the problems that Democratic and Republican primary voters faced over the last few months, leaving voting rights advocates concerned about the November elections, where turnout will be dramatically higher. “We are at a crossroads in our democracy. This is a moment that really requires that states and elected officials to explore ways to make voting easier,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. There’s no single fix to the problems, since each state runs elections in its own way. But advocates have found issues with malfunctioning voting machines, too few polling places and election workers misunderstanding state laws.
California, which voted last week, had problems with its vote-by-mail system. Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, said the state’s 58 counties were not handling the process consistently. Some notified voters if their ballot was rejected, giving them the opportunity to fix the mistake, while others did not. She foresees similar problems in November. “I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll make any significant changes to our vote-by-mail system between now and then,” Alexander said.
In New York, 125,000 voters in Brooklyn were removed from voter rolls, prompting an audit of the Board of Elections by NYC Comptroller, Scott Stringer. In addition to that, there were reports of voters having difficulties accessing polling sites.
Last week, a separate audit showed the Board of Elections did not have accurate records of more than 1,450 pieces of election and office equipment, “raising alarms that property could be stolen or go missing without anyone noticing,” a statement from the comptroller’s office said.