Some early voters report problems in Collin County

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by STEVE STOLER / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on February 23, 2010 at 10:11 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 23 at 11:31 PM

Several Collin County voters are complaining about their early voting experiences. They say election workers just couldn't believe they wanted to vote Republican.

All of them are minorities, and they believe race is the reason they were questioned.

Three of the voters who had problems at a McKinney polling place have something in common: All are women; all are black; and all say they were questioned when they wanted to vote Republican.

Connie Evans explained what happened when she went to her polling place. “Before she gave me the card, she said, 'Now you're voting what?' 'I'm voting Republican.' And then after she gave me the card, she asked me again what I was voting, and I said, 'I'm voting Republican.'"

Tiffany Loera and Brittany Evans say they were asked the same question several times.

“It’s very offensive, because it's almost like we don't know what we're talking about," Loera said. "Why ask more than once?"

Four African-American candidates are running on the Republican ballot, the most ever in Collin County. Historically, African-Americans vote Democratic in the county.

The women believe that's why they were questioned.

“Most black people were supposed to vote Democrat, but we can change our mind just like anybody else," Evans said.

In response, Collin County Elections Administrator Sharon Rowe sent a message to all county poll workers, telling them to ask every single voter if they are voting in the Democratic or Republican primary, or allow the voter to declare their party affiliation. She warned them to never assume a party affiliation for any voter.

Connie Evans says reaction she received has upset her. “If I’m coming in and I say I'm voting Republican, that's what I'm voting;  I don't need to be asked three times," she said.

The problem isn't’ limited to African-American voters at just one polling place.

Long-time Republican voter Fred Nasseri’s had difficulty inside the voting booth.

“As soon as I put the card in, it says 'Democratic.' I was really upset, and I let them know this is a concern," Nasseri said.

The elections administrator wants to talk with all the voters who had problems at the polls, so she can address each issue to make sure it won't happen again.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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