Despite glitch, 11,000 really can vote





October 26, 2004


WASHINGTON - After sending notices to 11,000 registered voters this month telling them they couldn't vote until seven days after Election Day, New York City election officials sent postcards yesterday notifying them that they can, in fact, vote next Tuesday.


"This will be, hopefully, a final reminder that they're clearly eligible to vote on Nov. 2," said John Ravitz, executive director of the New York City Board of Elections.


Ravitz blamed a computer error for letters mailed two weeks ago notifying registered voters that they could vote effective Nov. 9. Election officials mailed a second notice last week clarifying the date but yesterday followed up with the postcard, which highlighted the correct date and apologized.


The voters, among new and existing registrants, were immediately added to the registration rolls, Ravitz said.


Last week, the Manhattan-based NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund called on election officials to correct the problem. While officials quickly responded, Debo Adegbile, the group's associate director of litigation, said they also should publicize the clarification through the media and community groups.


Adegbile said the news is particularly alarming because of charges that voters in places such as Alabama have received misinformation about where and when to vote.


Adegbile's group is part of a national coalition of civil rights organizations that have set up a hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) for voters to call with complaints.


But Ravitz said those voters won't be disenfranchised. "The only way they wouldn't vote is if they don't show up," he said.


Ravitz said the computer error will serve as a lesson when election officials later review safety checks, including mechanical and human errors. "This won't happen again," he said.


For more information voters, can call 866-868-3692.


Copyright (c) 2004, Newsday, Inc.



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