Georgia seeks to fix 'motor voter' glitch : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

State seeks to fix 'motor voter' glitch

Web posted Tuesday, November 14, 2000

By Lee Shearer Morris News Service

ATHENS, Ga. - State election officials will revisit parts of the state's ``motor voter'' program after a flood of complaints from people who thought they were registered to vote, but were turned away from polling places Tuesday.

And what's worse is that a single telephone call to the Georgia Department of Public Safety could have enabled many of the disenfranchised voters to cast a ballot, according to Kara Sinkule, a spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox.

Clarke County election officials got hundreds of calls about the problem Tuesday, and election officials in Oconee, Franklin, Barrow and other Northeast Georgia counties reported similar problems.

Officials don't know how many people were affected.

``We have heard about that problem in the (Atlanta) metro area and some other areas of the state, including Albany, Valdosta and Muscogee County, but as far as a number, it's real hard to tell,'' Ms. Sinkule said.

Many of the people with problems had registered at a public library, a Kroger Co. grocery store, or when they went to get or renew a driver's license - all part of the computerized motor voter program adopted in 1994 that was designed to make it easier for Georgia residents to register to vote.

But with the new system, there are more things that can go wrong, Ms. Sinkule said. A worker at the library or with the Georgia State Patrol might forget to note the registration, she pointed out, or a registration card might go to the wrong address.

Many of those turned away were entered in the state's data banks as eligible, she said. But local elections officials did not know that. They also did not know until later in the day Nov. 7 that a query to the state Department of Public Safety's computer system would have verified the eligibility of many of the voters.

The secretary of state's office will see what can be improved, Ms. Sinkule said.

She also said anyone who registers and does not get a card back from election officials should find out why.

``We're not blaming the customer, but if you don't get a card within about a month, that should be a red flag,'' she said.

-- Martin Thompson (, November 16, 2000

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