The citizens of Desha County apparently won't have any problems voting in this year's general election.
Even the dead ones.
Between every registered voter and the voting booth is The List. And if you're not on it, you might not be able to cast a ballot. One of the biggest changes wrought by the Help America Vote Act is the mandate that every state must have a voter registration database up and working by the Nov. 7 general election. But a dozen states missed the Jan. 1 deadline for finishing their databases, which produce lists of registered voters for every precinct. And four states have been sued by the Justice Department.
That leaves a confusing array of systems that may or may not work come Election Day, voting rights groups say. And it creates a growing anxiety that registered voters with every right to cast a ballot will be turned away because their names are not on the list for a variety of reasons, including something as innocuous as a typo. ...
''We already know everybody here, so it's not a problem,'' said election official Bill Conway, who oversees the voting of about 7,000 people in Arkansas' Desha County. ''I know everybody in the county, and they know me. We do our own database. We already know everybody who's going to vote.''
That doesn't mean he relies on local lore to do his job. There are dead people's names in the database, but he hasn't received official state notification of their deaths, so he leaves them on the rolls. After all, he might have heard wrong.
''Imagine if you came in to vote and someone said, 'You can't vote, you're dead.' Now how would you feel?''