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Please begin with an informative title:

Are "paper ballots" the same as "provisional ballots"?

If so, a lot of Upper West Side voters at our polling place found themselves fucked this morning.

We vote in NYC in our apartment building; one of the Trump buildings on Riverside Blvd.  Fairly pricey neighborhood (like most of the Upper West Side), upper middle class to upper upper upper middle class residents.  Usually voting here is a breeze; today was the first day I've ever seen lines at all.  Still, the lines were only 5-10 minutes long.  Several buildings - 160,180, and 200 - all vote at the same place.

I had no problem voting.  Gave them my last name, signed the card, pulled the old fashioned lever, felt jubilant and a little emotional.  They'd already run out of "I voted" stickers, so the pollworkers were handwriting them on pieces of tape!

However, my husband - and everyone whose last name starts with A-L in our building - were told that they'd have to cast "paper ballots" because "the machine for your building and your alphabetical numbers isn't working."


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

They told him he could come back later, but he figured there would be longer lines then, so he wrote up his paper ballot, dropped it in a box, and left.  Dozens of others were doing the same.  

I had already left the polling place.  I would have told him to come back if I'd beetn there.  Do these paper ballots count as full votes, or are they "provisional"? If they're provisional, doesn't that mean the votes aren't actually counted?

Anyone who knows NYC/State voting law, please inform.

There were others at the polling place who were told to cast "paper ballots" as well...for more mundance reasons.  For these people, I had little sympathy.

A 30-something, very well-dressed woman in front of me, obviously in a hurry, was distressed that her registration couldn't be found.  The pollworker asked her, "Did you register at the same address?" "Oh," she said. "No, I used to live at 160."  After scouring some more, the poll worker asked her, "Did you register under the same name?"  Another moment.  "No," she answered, "My last name used to be T-.  Now it's R-"  She was directed to cast a paper ballot.

Next to me in another line, another harried-looking woman was annoyed with the pollworker.  "I used to live at 200!"  she was saying.  "I always voted here before!"   Her registration couldn't be found.  She, too, was told to cast a paper ballot.

First of all, these women were obviously educated and relatively affluent.  How dare they not check in advance that their voting registration was correct.... for the most important Presidential election EVER? The woman with the name change appalled me the most.  I can see forgetting to register your divorce/marriage name change before a city council election, but for a Presidential election?  THIS Presidential election?  Unforgiveable.

All these paper ballots going into the bin occurred in the space of less than half an hour.  What does this mean overall?

I'm certainly not worried that Obama won't win NYC.  He will, by a landslide.  But this kind of sloppiness is very upsetting to me.  While canvassing in Allentown PA over the weekend, I saw a commitment and resolve to vote in the eyes of low-income men and women, and a sense that they felt involved in the democratic process for the first time in their lives.

To see this kind of sloppiness and apathy on the Upper West Side of New York, well, it was disheartening to say the least.  

The Audacity of Hope may win out, but the Perseverance of Apathy was still a bummer to witness.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to hopesprings on Tue Nov 04, 2008 at 08:51 AM PST.

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