Voters in Pa, Colo., and NM Could Have Trouble at Polls

Sept. 3, 2008, 4:15 p.m. EDT
MINNEAPOLIS - Which states will see problems at the polls in November?

Some advocates expect voting glitches in a few key swing states where tight contests are expected between presidential candidates Barack Obama (D) and John McCain (R).

The battleground states of New Mexico, Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio and south Florida all have a history of problems administering elections and are the states to watch in 2008, said Mike Slater, executive director of Project Vote , a Washington, D.C.,-based group that aims to get more low-income and minority Americans to vote. "All of this counts when the votes are very close," Slater said.

As Stateline.org reported in a story earlier this summer, this year's presidential primaries showed that the problems that made headlines in the past - with voter registration rolls, identification requirements and voting machines - have been upstaged by a new difficulty. The huge turnout during the primaries overwhelmed some states and counties.

"I think Pennsylvania is the real sleeper," said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting , which advocates for voter-verified paper ballots for all U.S. elections. She said that while Florida last year added paper trails to electronic voting machines and Ohio is addressing security issues, only about a dozen counties in Pennsylvania have systems that allow votes to be verified.

Slater and Smith made their comments during a Sept. 1 panel session here convened by electionline.org , a project of the Pew Center on the States that tracks election reform efforts. Both electionline.org and Stateline.org are funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.