Poll workers, no matter how well intentioned, can become confused by the minutiae of election law. Here is what one man—an election activist, no less—wrote to colleagues after the Pennsylvania primary: “As an election judge last Tuesday in a heavily minority recinct in Lancaster I can attest to the fact there were several instances of newly registered voters who showed up to vote (in the Democratic primary) but couldn’t because they were listed as independent or no party. At no point were we instructed to allow these voters to cast a provisional ballot, and frankly, it did not occur to me to rovide them with one.” Curiously, the election judge, who runs the precinct, said he did give a provisional ballot to a man who insisted he was a registered Democrat, which is what he should have been doing all along. Voters who know their rights can insist on better treatment.
What if your ballot doesn’t arrive? The first step, for domestic voters, is to call the county election office and ask why you have not received your ballot. This is important; in some states, like Pennsylvania, people who were listed as absentee voters but showed up to vote at their former local precinct were not allowed to cast ballots in the primary. Nobody wants to be in that situation in November.
In Pennsylvania, paperless machines also did not turn on at the start of voting, causing lines and delays.