Election 2004: Lawyers, start your engines

There’s a good chance that we may not know the outcome of the Presidential election for many days after November 2. Many of the reasons why have been covered elsewhere, but one provision of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) sn’t aware of was mentioned in this BBC article discussing how for the first time, representatives from the OSCE (the European body which has traditionally monitored elections in fledgling democracies) will observe the election. In addition to providing funds to “upgrade” election equipment, HAVA also mandates the concept of a “provisional ballot”:

The Help America Vote Act (Hava), passed in October 2002, mandated all states to introduce provisional ballots as a means of avoiding what happened in Florida during the 2000 poll, when thousands of voters incorrectly listed as criminals were alleged to have been removed from voter rolls and turned away.

Under the new system, everyone who believes they are entitled to vote – regardless of whether their name features on a roll or not – may cast a ballot. The validity of their vote will be decided later – although how this will be decided has also been a subject of some speculation.

(My emphasis.) If the election is close, expect not just lawsuits around hanging chads (which will still exist) and faulty electronic voting machines, but also around each end every provisional ballot cast.

1 thought on “Election 2004: Lawyers, start your engines”

  1. Lord. Election night 2000 is still branded in my mind as one of the horrible endless moments of my life. At least we’re going in to it this time with our expectations properly lowered.

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