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Mapping voting problems next Tuesday

Posted by Christopher Shea  October 29, 2008 03:29 PM

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weather_440x297.jpg
MyFairElection will track stormy polling conditions just as The Weather Channel tracks low-pressure zones

A number of factors that could affect the election next week aren't captured by those maps that break the country down into red, blue, "leaning," and tossup states: whether, for example, polling stations are equipped to handle the anticipated heavy crowds (early voters in Florida have had to wait in line for as long as four hours); how many prospective voters' credentials are challenged; how those challenges are handled; and whether voting machines somehow go wacko, creating a 2008 variant on those infamous "butterfly ballots" of 2000.

The voting process, after all, has once again become an issue this year: Republicans have charged that Democrats and their allies have stooped to voter-registration fraud in order to bolster their chances, while Democrats counter that what's really going on is that the Republicans want to deter young, first-time, and minority voters from voting.

Enter MyFairElection, an online resource that will track voting conditions across the country on November 4. It's a project overseen by Archon Fung, a professor of public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School, in collaboration with ABC News. Fung and ABC are asking voters from every state to register at myfairelection.com. After they've -- that is, you've -- cast your ballot next Tuesday (or sooner), you can then log on again and report how your experience was: one to five stars, plus a few comments about specifics. If you've registered in advance, you can also submit your ratings via email (perhaps live from the scene, from your Blackberry or Palm).

MyFairElection will take all that information and create what it's calling a "weather map" of polling conditions throughout the country; ABC will monitor any storm fronts during its election-day coverage. Participants in MyFairElection can also agree to be contacted by phone -- that part's optional -- for a follow-up investigation of any problems that arise.

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