Voting in More Than One State

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good or bad, the way the Electoral College system works, a few votes in a single contested state can determine who becomes President – regardless of how dominate one candidate might have been in the popular vote nationwide.

A friend of mind, an already published and up and coming writer – recently discovered that she can vote in two states, legally and without the least effort on her part to defraud the system. It’s a huge discovery, particularly in light of the extraordinary numbers of college students and other newly registered voters who are expected to participate in this year’s election. Here, in an op/ed she’s just written, is her story.

One Person, Two Votes
by A. C. Friss

I may not be a politician, government official, or member of the media, but I know a messed up system when I see one. I’m a 28 year old woman living in a tiny Manhattan apartment with my husband and am a registered voter here in New York. Well, apparently, I’m also a registered voter in Maryland.

I found this out a few days ago, when I was visiting my parents and saw that I had received a sample ballot from the local Board of Elections. At first I thought, of course I can’t actually be allowed to vote in two different states. There must be some catch. Perhaps I would be asked to show my license and would be turned away on the grounds that my New York license had my New York address. Or perhaps they would see my maiden name on my sample ballot, my married name on my driver’s license and reject me on the grounds that they didn’t match. Unfortunately, the helpful woman who answered the phone at the Howard County, Maryland Board of Elections, proudly told me that there was no need to bring any identification to my polling place. All I needed was to bring my sample ballot and I would be allowed to vote.

This will be my fifth time voting in New York and I’ve never had to show any identification here either. You just sign your name and presumably the volunteer behind the table is checking to make sure the signatures match. I suppose this prevents someone who isn’t me from voting in my place, but what if I’m actually registered to vote in two states? It’s still my signature. Next Tuesday morning, I could wake up, vote in New York and then drive the 3.5 hour trip down to Maryland and vote again there. That’s just wrong. I shouldn’t be allowed to vote twice. Nobody should. And of course, I won’t. But I could. Not to mention that I could’ve already applied for, filled out and mailed in an absentee ballot for Maryland, all before I actually vote here in New York on Election Day.

Why can’t we get our act together? Why can’t there be a national voter registration system? How is it possible that Maryland doesn’t know that I’m registered to vote in New York and vice versa? I realize that some people are against the idea of nationalizing certain programs and systems, like health care or the banking system, but if nothing else, shouldn’t a national election be nationalized?

It’s alarming to me that something as important as voting for the next President of the United States is apparently so disorganized that I’m allowed to vote twice. I can’t be the only one. It’s sad and frustrating to think that this simple lack of organization could lead to something as major as voting fraud and manipulation of a national vote to elect the President.

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