Wacky fun with PA’s voter lookup tool!

September 27, 2012
by carlsnodgrass

Not really.  Just a little FYI for PA voters out there.

Lots of states have tools to help you verify your voter registration online. Pennsylvania, which happens to be my current home, has one.  I’ve used it, and both myself and my wife show up, verified and ready to vote.

But I just got an email from a friend telling me she and her husband are both not found on PA’s voter lookup.  Odd, considering they’ve lived here longer than we have, and have definitely successfully voted here.  She called her county elections office, and they verified that both she and her husband are registered.  The county also told her that they’d been receiving a lot of calls from people unable to find themselves on the online site.

She emailed RA-Sure_Helpdesk@pa.gov and they were very responsive, which is refreshing.  Turns out, her and her husband’s last names are hyphenated – Robosplosionstein-Smith (I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent) – but not on the voting records; they are on record as “Robosplosionstein Smith” [no hyphen].

PA’s voter ID law requires that your ID’s name “substantially conform" to the name on the voter rolls.  The spirit of the law surely accepts hyphen/no-hyphen discrepancies, and my friends are unlikely to have a problem voting, but it’s ultimately up to their precinct to make that call, which is a little worrisome.

The takeaway from this is two-fold, I guess: 1) look yourself up to verify your registration!  If you don’t see yourself, contact your local elections office to confirm because those tools are not as smart as you think! And, 2) NEVER CHANGE YOUR NAME!

And I’m out.

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