SAN FRANCISCO — With most states reporting massive new voter registrations and many political observers worrying about potential voter confusion and allegations of fraud on Nov.2, one organization has created a web-based tool to answer questions and provide information.
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The site, www.mypollingplace.com, is sponsored by the People for the American Way Foundation, a group that has dedicated significant resources toward voter access projects since the contested election in Florida in 2000.
By typing in their home address and zip code into the searchable data base, voters are given the location of their polling place, a map to reach it, and information on the type of voting equipment used at the polling place and how to operate it.
The project is the brainchild of Andrew and Deborah Rappaport, Silicon Valley venture capitalists and major Democratic Party donors who have also been active in boosting voter turnout among young people. Using research, they found that many young people simply didn't know where to vote or were worried about making errors when they voted.
"We were thinking that it couldn't be that hard to put together a tool young people could use to figure out how and where to vote," Andrew Rappaport said. "Then it dawned on us that it's useful for all voters. We think it's an integral part of voter protection."
The Rappaports assembled a team of technicians to build the site, gathering data from all 50 states and trying to make it all compatible. About 90 percent of American homes in the country are now covered in the site, a figure that could reach 95 percent by Nov. 2.
Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, said he hoped the tool would be particularly useful in offsetting problems with provisional ballots, which are intended to be backups for eligible voters whose names do not appear on the rolls. Courts in several battleground states, including Ohio, Florida and Michigan, have ruled that a provisional ballot must be cast in the voter's correct precinct in order to be counted.
Despite the Rappaports' and PFAW's Democratic political leanings, Neas insisted the site is completely nonpartisan. It is specifically operated by PFAW's foundation, which as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization is barred from partisan political activity.
"The goal of this is to have everyone enfranchised," he said. "It's national and can be accessed by every American. The only thing this is supposed to do is help voters."
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