As Election Day draws closer, many residents who hope to vote on November 2 could face a huge problem. We received the following email from NBC10 viewer Tony Oppenheim last Saturday.
There is an urgent problem that needs to be handled ASAP since time is of the essence for getting these applications in.
We just discovered that the Absentee Ballot Applications being handed out in Bucks County may be the wrong forms. Voters submitting these forms may have their applications rejected.
The correct form is posted on the board of elections web site at this address:
The current form requests ID information that is not requested on the old form. It also has a second page that provides key information (where to send the completed app, and what ID is acceptable).
Submitting the old form without this key information may result in an application being rejected.
We're not sure what action, if any, the board of elections will take to notify voters that their application was rejected.
Please help me get the word out about this. We have to make sure voters are getting the correct and complete version of this application.
This may be a wider problem than just Bucks County. Perhaps this is something else you could look into.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
NBC10 reached out to Oppenheim who claimed he got absentee ballot applications for his daughter and her friends before she left for college so she could vote in her first presidential election.
“Chloe was going off to school and we wanted to make sure she could vote,” said Oppenheim.
After Chloe left for school however, her mom brought her completed card to the Bucks County courthouse where they discovered a problem.
“She went to the board of elections, gave the application and was leaving,” said Oppenheim. “One of the clerks fortunately followed her and said, ‘I’m sorry, this is not complete,’ because it didn’t have the driver’s license or the last four of the social.”
What the Oppenheim’s and many others didn’t know was that the new Pennsylvania voter ID law made the countless old absentee applications obsolete.
“Most people are used to this form,” said Debbie Deblasio, Office Manager of the Bucks County Democrats. “People are going to think that they’re going to get a ballot. By the time they realize that they’re not getting a ballot it’s going to be too late to get another one. And they’re not going to be able to vote.”
Deblasio says it’s a potentially disastrous side effect of the voter ID law and she fears there could be many out there who have no idea they have the wrong application.
“That’s my fear,” said Deena Dean, Bucks County’s Board of Elections Director. “There are many of them out there.”
Dean tells NBC10 they had to wait until all the legal challenges to the voter ID law were exhausted before putting the absentee form on their website. Dean claims they’ve just come up with a process for applications that don’t have a driver’s license number or last four digits of their social security number.
“We make a copy of the application,” said Dean. “We put a sticker on it and we send it to the individual asking them to complete that and return that to us. No one is rejected because they failed to give us the information.”
Anyone who sends in the old absentee application will likely receive it back with a sticker on it, asking for their driver’s license number or last four digits of your social security number.
The applications must be submitted to your local county by October 30 while your ballot must be sent by November 2.
You can also get the correct Bucks County absentee ballot application here.
Published at 6:43 PM EDT on Sep 4, 2012