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Pennsylvania's Spanish-Speaking Voters Face Barriers at the Polls | The Nation

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Voting Rights Watch

Voting Rights Watch

In-depth coverage of voter suppression efforts nationwide, in partnership with Colorlines.com.

Pennsylvania's Spanish-Speaking Voters Face Barriers at the Polls

Reports continue to pour in about voter ID misinformation in Pennsylvania. Meredith McCoy from the Lawyer’s Committee tells Voting Rights Watch that signs have been up in Harrisburg and Dauphin Counties stating that photo IDs are required (see photo above). In Erie County, she says, one polling place has told voters that “although some places don’t require ID, this one does.” Community journalist Meta Mendel-Reyes writes that a voter was wrongly rejected from the polls in Oley for not having ID, while the city of Berwick has signs stating that ID is required. Voting Rights Watch Community Journalist Maegan Ortiz reports that similar posters have been up in the Philadelphia suburb of Havertown.

Meanwhile, Spanish-speaking voters at several polling places in North Philly have been left without interpreters, Ceiba’s Will Gonzalez tells Voting Rights Watch. “It would be akin to opening a polling place without electricity,” he says. In some cases, poll workers have asked Spanish-speaking voters to put their name on a list for follow-up, making many voters uneasy. Adds Gonzalez: “Any delay is denial on this thing.”

Philadelphia’s Latino population has also had issues with voters not showing up on the rolls and being forced to fill out provisional ballots—or walk away in frustration. As Philadelphia’s City Paper reports, provisional ballots, a theme across the city today, require extra follow-up from voters after they’ve filled out their forms. Absentee ballots have also been an issue. As Luke McKinstry from the Committee of Seventy tells Voting Rights Watch, numerous voters have called in saying that they haven’t received their ballots even after submitting absentee applications well in advance.

The Committee of Seventy office, which I visited this afternoon, is a phone-ringing nightmare. “Usually with federal elections it’ll die down [mid-afternoon]—people doing crossword puzzles,” President and CEO Zack Stalberg says. “I haven’t seen anything like this before.”

Check Voting Rights Watch 2012 throughout the night for live updates.

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