Carnahan reports few election problems in 2006

Friday, February 16, 2007

The biggest problems reported were long lines and delays that caused long waits for voters.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said Thursday that while there were scattered problems, the November election went fairly smoothly.

"In all cases, the elections in 2006 were fair, accurate and secure, and in most cases, also went smoothly and were efficient," she told journalists at The Associated Press and Missouri Press Association's Day at the Capitol.

Carnahan's office released a report declaring voters in November experienced several problems. The biggest ones were long lines and delays that made voters in some parts of the state wait more than two hours to vote, ballot shortages and confusion about documents needed to vote.

Problems with long lines and ballot shortages were particularly severe in Jasper County in the southwestern corner of the state, while poll workers demanding to see unnecessary documents were most notable in St. Louis County.

Almost 20 percent of all complaints to the secretary of state involved voters claiming they had been wrongly forced to show identification. Of those, more than half were from St. Louis County.

Much of the confusion about documents, Carnahan's office concluded, stemmed from a new law requiring most voters to show state-issued identification to vote. That requirement was invalidated less than a month before the November election when the Missouri Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

The report recommends restoring the option of straight-party voting and allowing early voting by absentee ballot. It also calls for establishing more polling stations in urban areas and more voting booths within each station to cut down on lines.

To address problems with wrongly forcing voters to show IDs, Carnahan called for better state training and materials for election workers.

The report also called for incentives and more flexibility to attract poll workers and higher penalties for those who distribute campaign material too close to election sites.

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