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This is a quick diary.  Yesterday I worked for the Obama voter protection effort in Florida as a poll watcher in one of the early voting sites.  The following are observations from that experience. I should add that the numbers look good for us in early voting in the I-4 Corridor.

Some observations:
1.  Heavy African American turnout (good)
2.  Heavy senior turnout (bad)
3.  MUCH MUCH better run than in 2008. It was like night and day.
4.  The GOP has better visibility than we do. Also, they have more poll watchers than we do.
5.  The GOP poll watchers have not been trained, and really don't know what they are doing.  We have had great training.  We are far ahead of them in the use of technology to report problems.
6.  The GOP poll watchers are not challenging voters in early voting.
7.  Far less provisional ballots thus far than in 2008.  This may be a result, though, that in early voting you don't have to go to the right precinct as long as you are in the county.

In Florida, most voter suppression happens before election day in the form of dis-enrolled voters and strict voter ID requirements.  The early voter personnel were well trained, and could advise people on the different forms of ID they could use.  However, this may not be the case on election day.

In fact, 3 people took provisional ballots where I was yesterday because of ID issues.  This doesn't sound like a lot, but if this happens on election day, this is going to have a substantial impact.  Obama does not have as many people working here as in 2008.  Voters have until Thursday after an election to cure a voter id issue and if we had the manpower we could absolutely help people find a way to make sure their vote counted.  

I am worried we do not have enough, though.



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The following is some information about the Florida ballot.

It is important to understand at the outset the difference between a regular and a provisional ballot.  A regular ballot is counted automatically.  A provisional ballot is just that: provisional.  You fill out the ballot and it is sealed in an envelope with information on the cover.  The ballot may or may not be counted based on the circumstances, though it worth noting that you have until Thursday at 5 to cure any defect related to the ballot.

Absentee ballots
1.  You CAN still vote in person IF you have requested but not returned your absentee ballot.  
2.  You can track the status of your absentee ballot through you county Supervisor of Elections.  This link will take you to a page where you can select your county and see the status of your ballot.
3.  If a signature mismatch occurs, you do not have resource to cure the mismatch as you do if you are voting in person.
4.  You CANNOT drop you ballot off at your precinct.  If you still have it on election day I suggest voting in person and destroying your vote by mail ballot

In person

By far the most common issues I have seen on election day have to do with voters who have moved, or who are showing up at the wrong voting location.

1.  If you have moved WITHIN the county since the election, you may change your address at the precinct where you should vote the day of the election.  You will then be able to take a regular ballot.  
2.  If you have moved from another county to the one in which you want to vote, you may have to take a provision ballot.  In Hillsborough, however, you can call the Supervisor of Elections Office and change your address.  You can then take a regular ballot after you have updated your address.   I am not sure what the procedure is in other counties.
3.   You must show up to YOUR precinct.  In 2008 I saw more than a few instances of people going to the wrong precinct and trying to vote.  
4.   You must have a picture ID with a signature when you vote.   This can be :
-a driver's license
-Florida ID Card
-Debit card
-Student ID
-Military ID
-Retirement Center ID
-Neighborhood Association ID
-Public Assistance ID

You can use two forms of ID.  For example, if you have one ID with a picture but no signature, and another with your name a signature you can still vote.
5.  If the clerk questions your signature, you have the right to fill out an affidavit, and then you can take a regular ballot.
6.  If you don't have ID, you can still take a provisional ballot.

I hope this helps.  Feel free to forward as needed.

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