Voting hurdles? Step into the rumor-control booth

Posted: October 07, 2008

Worried that you won't be able to vote in your McCain or Obama T-shirt or that you'll get busted for unpaid parking tickets if you show up at the polls? Here's the real skinny on some of the stories about voting being passed around in e-mails, fliers and rumors:

* It turns out that the e-mail warning that you shouldn't wear any Obama shirts, pins or hats to the polls has some basis in fact. There's an ongoing legal battle about it, but some counties in Pennsylvania interpret the law against polling-place electioneering different from others.

Philadelphia lets you vote with your partisan gear on. Montgomery County doesn't. Might be smart to bring a sweatshirt on Election Day to cover up.

* Another e-mail warns that if you're voting with an absentee ballot and don't submit a color photocopy of your driver's license with your ballot, your "vote is going to be thrown into the trash can."

Not exactly. You need an ID only when you vote for the first time, or for the first time at a new polling place.

If you didn't provide a copy of your ID when you registered, then you do need to provide it with the absentee ballot or absentee-ballot application.

But it doesn't have to be in color, and it doesn't have to be a driver's license. You can get a list of acceptable forms of ID at the Pennsylvania Department of State Web site, .

* Fliers in black Philadelphia neighborhoods last week warned that anyone with outstanding warrants or unpaid parking tickets could be arrested if they show up at the polls. Baloney. Nobody will bother you.

* Rumors have circulated that anyone facing a home foreclosure loses the right to vote. That's untrue, although residents who move should update their voter registration to their new address.

Accusations of voter manipulation and dirty tricks are par for the course in election season. Last month, the Obama campaign sued in Michigan to prevent the Republican Party from using foreclosure lists to challenge registration. Michigan GOP leaders have denied using the lists in any way.

There were reports in Wisconsin last month that the McCain campaign was sending Democrats fliers with applications for absentee ballots, some addressed to the wrong election office. *

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