Did Your Vote Count?

November 17, 2004 – Posted at 2:19 p.m. CST

JONESBORO -- Two weeks have passed since Election Day, but some folks are still learning harsh lessons about being a registered voter.

KAIT cameras were rolling on Election Day when 18-year-old Greg Sims showed up to vote for the first time. He says he registered to vote during a registration drive last year at Jonesboro High School, but when he showed up at the polls, it was a different story.

"They told me they couldn't find my name in the system," said Sims.

He was given a provisional ballot. At that point, his vote hung in the balance while the election commission tried to figure out if his name was accidentally left off the list of registered voters. Since then he's learned what happened.

"I got a letter back around 3 or 4 days ago that said my vote did not count," said Sims, "I was just disappointed. I felt disenfranchised."

Sims wasn't the only person with this problem. The same thing happened to his ASU classmates. The students agree that it is a hard lesson learned. When you register to vote, you may not be really registered.

"What you're doing when you fill out the form, is you are applying to register," said Craighead County Clerk Nancy Nelms.

And when you sign up at a voters registration drive, you're basically putting your right to vote in someone else's hands.

"The voter does have some responsibility that they need to follow up on that," said Nelms.

It's best to register in person. After that you should get a registered voter card in the mail.

"If you don't get a card in the mail and you've registered and a couple of week have passed by you need to check in on it and see," said Nelms.

And that's part of the reason the courthouses aren't packed with people.

"It's a good time to get registered. Make sure we've got your address right. So that you know you don't have to scramble around to get here right before that deadline," said Nelms.

"Just make sure like months before the election make sure that you're a register voter," said Sims.

That way you don't stand in line just to vote in vain. 147 provisional ballots were filled out in Craighead County, however, only 21 were validated.