Post office 'glitch' rejecting absentee ballots in Philadelphia
Inaccurate radio ads saying Photo ID needed to vote still running...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2012, 12:41pm PT  

This item is less reassuring than it appears at first, once one pays attention to the details. Philadelphia Inquirer reporting...

Hurricane Sandy hit Pennsylvania just as the state's voters faced deadlines for acquiring and submitting absentee ballots, a situation that could affect thousands of votes in the close presidential election.

Gov. Corbett [R] announced Monday night that he was extending the deadline for voters to request absentee ballots - originally 5 p.m. Tuesday - by up to two days, depending on how many days county offices were forced to close because of the storm.

That will give registered voters in Philadelphia, where offices were to be closed Monday and Tuesday, until Thursday at 5 p.m. to show up in person at county election offices, fill out an absentee ballot request, mark the ballot, and vote on the spot. The new deadline would be Wednesday for government offices closed only one day.
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It will be too late to use that extended deadline to send an absentee ballot through the mail, because Corbett said he was not extending the Friday deadline for completed absentee ballots to arrive at county election offices.

Any use of the mail could be problematic because the storm has curtailed mail service in Philadelphia and the suburbs. Further cutbacks are likely throughout the state, depending on the course of the storm the remainder of the week.

The article was called to our attention on Twitter by MN's Sec. of State Mark Ritchie who asks: "Maybe other states will follow" in extending their absentee deadlines? But, again, please note that extended deadline only works for those showing up in person to cast their absentee ballot.

And then the Inquirer article also adds this troubling tidbit...

[Philadelphia's top election official, City Commissioner Stephanie] Singer said her office had discovered another problem with postal deliveries to Room 142 in City Hall, where absentee ballot requests and ballots themselves are supposed to be addressed. A glitch in one of the postal system's automated sorting devices was not recognizing City Hall as an appropriate address and was returning some mail to an unknown number of voters, saying the address was "unknown," Singer said.

[U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Cathy] Yarofsky said the Postal Service learned of the problem just last week and was working to fix it as quickly as possible.

Absentee ballots, however, could be the least of the problems for Pennsylvania's electorate (along with some 6 other states) where voters are largely forced to vote on 100% unverifiable electronic touch-screen voting systems on Election Day. If power remains out in precincts as of next Tuesday, as it currently is for millions of Pennsylvanian's and others in surrounding states, they may not be able to vote at all, as we detailed in our report yesterday.

We've sent a query to Singer asking about the city's supply of emergency paper ballots in the event that power is not back on by next Tuesday. We've yet to hear back, but will update this item if/when we do.

While we're on the topic, please note that confusion over Photo ID in PA still reigns, despite the fact that the PA courts determined almost a month ago that no Photo ID will be necessary to vote this year in the Keystone State. Thanks to the Republican judge who made the horrible ruling, however --- allowing for poll workers to ask for ID anyway, and allowing the $5 million tax-payer funded "education campaign" for Photo ID to continue --- a mess was assured in PA even before Sandy struck.

A CBS radio affiliate is still running inaccurate ads telling voters that Photo ID is needed to vote. The ad, heard running as late as October 26th, misinforms listeners:

The Voter ID law was just recently signed by the governor ... You're not going to be allowed to vote unless you present an acceptable photo identification. Get to a PennDOT licensing center and get a photo ID at the drivers' license center.

That ad is completely inaccurate.

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UPDATE 11/3/12: A bit of good news. Corbett has now done the right thing, perhaps for the first time in his life, and has extended the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots as well...

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