MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - Hundreds of you are ticked off after a Lakewood Ranch woman says she showed up at her early voting polling place only to be told she already cast a ballot and wouldn’t be able to vote. Karen Joseph insists it was her first trip to polls, and she was infuriated.
Now, you're reaching out to us online saying: There has to be a better way. You're all pointing out in this age of technology, why aren't there more safeguards to document who votes and when?
You're giving us some great feedback on Facebook. The comment getting the most attention is from Chris Kalika Blisset offering this idea: “Voting machines should have cameras, taking a snapshot of the voter's face, date and time...and giving you a receipt with proof that you cast a ballot.”
Others are weighing in and said some state tests for real estate have a similar photo scan system.
“Or what about fingerprints to vote?”, Starr Cannon asks.
Local supervisor of elections offices say those suggestions are great but it all comes down to time and money.
Implementing those systems would be expensive and could slow down your voting time. That's something a lot of us really appreciate: that voting is a very quick and smooth process.
In Joseph’s case it turns out, the combination of a technical problem and the state's own safeguards were to blame.
Karen Joseph says she handed her driver’s license to a poll worker, “She scanned it and said 'You already voted.' I said 'No, I have not,” recalls Karen. The poll worker asked if she had filed for an absentee ballot and Karen said no.
The clerk tried to help and also told her it appeared she had voted maybe at another polling place. “I said 'No, I did not.'”
Karen was left with no choice but to fill out a provisional ballot. But the idea that her vote wouldn’t be counted until after Nov. 8 didn't sit well.
Manatee County Supervisor of Election Mike Bennett says there was a technical problem. “The machine jammed, paper jammed,” says Bennett. Does this happen often? Bennett said, “No but it happened that time.”
He adds, “That paper jam prevented from issuing a ballot but she had already checked in according to that machine.”
Bennett says the machines statewide are set up to issue one ballot per person per election. The provisional ballot was Karen’s only option.
Bennett says, "It's (provisional ballot) really an insurance policy that person gets to vote."
A canvassing board reviews and validates any ballot with inconsistencies. Karen’s ballot passed and her votes were scanned and will count in time for the election.
Karen says, “The system isn’t going to work if we don’t challenge the system.”
(© 2017 WTSP)