Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NEW ID LAWS COULD DELAY OUTCOME OF CLOSE ELECTION

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The presidential election is Nov. 6, but it could take days to figure out the winner if the vote is close. New voting laws are likely to increase the number of people who have to cast provisional ballots in key states.

Tight races for Congress, governor and local offices also could be stuck in limbo while election officials scrutinize ballots, a scenario that would surely attract legions of campaign lawyers from both parties.

"It's a possibility of a complete meltdown for the election," said Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida.

Voters cast provisional ballots for a variety of reasons: They don't bring proper ID to the polls; they fail to update their voter registration after moving; they try to vote at the wrong precinct; or their right to vote is challenged by someone.

These voters may have their votes counted, but only if election officials can verify that they were eligible to vote, a process that can take days or weeks. Adding to the potential for chaos: Many states won't even know how many provisional ballots have been cast until sometime after Election Day. Read More