Thursday, October 09, 2008

New voter registrants: Driver's license number needed if you have one

I now have my answer regarding the voters I registered who didn’t have their driver’s license numbers with them. You will recall from earlier posts that I jumped immediately to having them provide the last four digits of their social security number for verification.

As it turns out, relying on social security information is causing havoc with voter registration here and elsewhere. See today’s New York Times story.

Don Hamilton is an old friend and is now in charge of media for the Oregon Secretary of State, who oversees elections. Don says that if a would-be voter has a driver’s license, its number MUST be provided. The last four digits of the social security number won’t do as a substitute.

So what about all those people (there must be 10 to 15 of them) whom I registered with only the social security numbers, even though they had (but left at home) their driver’s licenses?

Hamilton says not to worry; they will be notified by mail (they provided their addresses on the forms) and asked to provide the missing DL information. The requests, he assured me, will go out in time for them to respond, be registered and receive the ballots.

I’m relieved. I just hope he’s right.

So am I the only one confused by the instructions on the registration form?

Hamilton didn’t know. I was the only volunteer registrar he’d heard from. To find out if incorrectly filled out forms are a common problem, I’ve put out a call to Tim Scott at the Multnomah Elections Office. Given that this must be a crazy time for him, I doubt I’ll hear back from him soon.

I’ll let you know when and if I do.

Meanwhile, flaws in the process or not, registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans by a remarkable 220,000 in the state, says Hamilton. That’s up from 166,000 a year ago.

And just think, that doesn’t even count those thrown into electoral limbo by my false interpretation of the fuzzy registration procedure. And yes, the large, large majority of those I’ve registered in our Hillsdale Farmers Market are indeed Democrats.

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