State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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"Human error," not voter ID, causing hiccups in absentee ballot process

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 19, 2012 4:37 PM

Most of the voter ID law is blocked for the November election, but what’s left is creating headaches for some voters trying to get their absentee ballots.

Before the voter ID law was passed, voters had only to provide name, address, and birth date to get their absentee ballots. Now, voters must provide either their driver license numbers, or the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

Those numbers have proven tough to get right. The Tribune-Democrat has reported a non-match situation in Cambria County, when a voter supplied an ID number that didn’t match the one on the county’s file. Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman said Friday he’s heard of similar problems throughout the state.

“What has happened in a very few instances across the state is the numbers provided have not matched with what the County registration office has on file,” said Ruman. He stressed that there’s no systemic problem causing the non-matches.

“This is very likely the result of human error, when the number was entered the first time and put into the voter registration database,” he said. “We have about eight-and-a-half million registered voters and certainly when those numbers are entered by humans in a few cases, there are human errors that occur.”

Voters who apply for absentee ballots with ID numbers that don’t match their county’s system should be contacted directly by their county elections office, Ruman said. He added that he’s also heard of non-match problems in Washington and Fayette Counties. Calls to the election directors there were not returned.

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