Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Student Vote Suppression in Blair County, Pennsylvania

Students attempting to vote today in Blair County, Pennsylvania, were turned away if their permanent addresses conflicted with the local residence shown on their voting registration in the county. Such refusals to allow students to vote are improper.

The Chancellor of Penn State's Altoona campus acted to secure the intervention of the county solicitor and sent the following letters to faculty and students on campus.

Dear faculty,

I write to ask that you be understanding and flexible with students who may have been late for class or missed class due to issues surrounding their attempts to vote today. There were two issues: 1) long lines and several hour waiting periods at the polls, and 2) several students were denied provisional ballots because their permanent address is outside of our area.

Thankfully, the County Solicitor gave a ruling this afternoon that appropriately affirmed students' right to vote via provisional ballot. I have emailed all students suggesting that if they were denied the right to vote that they return to the polling precinct to request the right to vote via provisional ballot. Please see below the email message I sent to students.

I thank you for your understanding.

With gratitude,



Dear Students,

For those of you who attempted to vote today but were denied because of residency issues, the County Solicitor has ruled that you are entitled to vote.

Please return to the polling precinct and resubmit your request to vote. You should be issued a provisional ballot to allow you to vote in today's election.

If there is any further question or issue that you encounter, please ask the Judge of Elections at the polling precinct to call Ms. Ingrid Healy, the Director of Elections, at 693-3287 for clarification and approval.

You may need to be assertive in this request, but do not hesitate to do so, because as an American citizen it is your right to vote.


Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Ph.D.

Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Ph.D.
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601

See also Huffington Post on Iowa student voter suppression.

1000 students in line to vote at Penn State University Park campus today--at 7:00 A.M.

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