November 4th, 2008
05:50 PM ET
5 years ago

Actor waged 5-hour battle to cast vote

Robbins' name was missing from rolls.
Robbins' name was missing from rolls.

NEW YORK (CNN) - When Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins showed up at his West 14th Street YMCA polling center in Manhattan to vote Tuesday morning, election officials told him that his name was missing from the register.

"I went to vote where I normally vote and I was not listed. I asked for an explanation; they had none," Robbins told CNN.

He said he has been voting in the same district since 1992. He has not missed one election, and has not changed addresses or political affiliations.

"The poll worker said my name was in the book for the primary two months ago, but missing for the general election," he told CNN.

Although Robbins was offered the opportunity to fill out a provisional ballot, he was set on using the voting machine instead.

"Refuse provisional ballots - they're throwing those out, they can throw those out," he told viewers of "Real Time With Bill Maher" last month.

"If that's your last resort, take it, but fight for your right to vote," he said. "It's your right as an American."

It took Robbins a total of five hours - and a judge's order - to do so today.

"I'm just waiting for an explanation. I want a real explanation, and I want that explanation for the hundreds and thousands of people in my district and throughout the city who are experiencing the same thing today," Robbins told CNN.

A New York City Board of Elections representative did not return CNN's calls.

Polling places nationwide have seen heavy turnout - and accompanying delays and glitches - for the presidential race between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.


Filed under: New York • Voter Problems
soundoff (249 Responses)
  1. Patrick Daly

    I doubt that anyone would have deliberately removed him from the registration list. They would have to know that doing so would have brought a lot of media attention and led to an investigation. You'd have to be a complete idiot.

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  2. Bob from CA

    The conspiracy theory cracks me up. Does this joker really expect anyone to believe that New York City, one of the most liberal places on earth, is going to try to prevent a super-liberal celebrity from voting? Please.

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  3. Mike Boston

    Maybe he is full of crap and trying to get people to blame the GOP for everything. I am sure there is a vast right wing conspiracy in NYC

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. PD in San Diego

    You can always register as an absentee voter! I can't believe people are willing to stand in line that long! I decide the night before, fill in my ballot and walk in, drop off my ballot and get a sticker. In and out in 5 minutes. All of the drama of going to the polling station, but no waiting!

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. kathi from St Louis Missouri

    my son Brian was denied access to vote today. He voted in the 2004 election with me at our normal polling place. Today they said he did not exist on the roster nor was he in a data base they looked up on the computer. I think this is horrible and something needs to be done about it.

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. Delores

    The last election I could not vote. I filled out my voter registration card in plenty of time then was notified when it was too late that I did not fill out my card completly. That was a lie since I sat there at a restaurant filled out my card with my boyfriend and made sure each question was answered – signed my name and mailed it in myself. Well low and behold – I get a notice in the mail that I did not fill out my card – it was too late to send a correction in and our two votes did not get to be counted. This year – I did it on line to make double sure it would not happen to me again. I hope everyone gets to vote, who registered and who really wanted to. What if he was just a the average American? He might not have had the opportunity to vote but I am glad this story was published and maybe someone else will benefit.
    Go Obama! :)

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. RB

    The same thing happened in little old Germantown Ohio (population 3000- mostly Democratic) to two people in front of me (out of a total of 8 of us there to vote). That is 1/4 of the voters. They both cast provisional ballots, but how can we have a fair, unbiased and accurate election when these things happen? Unbelievable!

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. scott

    It amazes me we have such an advanced electronic system for banks, television, phones, the internet, etc. and they still can't use a single standard voting system across this country. Purging records of felons with shoddy systems or manually is bound to cause problems when they have common names like Tim Robbins. Also all of the information is entered manually when people register which is likely to cause typos. People should be registering to vote online at designated locations and having the information checked over several times then this purging of old records would be unnecessary.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Katrina

    He can vote as many times as he wants if he can get ahold of Acorn! With a name as common as Tim Robbins and the fact that it is also a celebrity name, you know there are hundreds of registrations with his name on them.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  10. Gene Wall

    Why don't the dummies who run these elections take a look at how Oregon does it-we vote by mail thus eliminating the horrors of going to the polls. I voted without leaving my house. Wow-talk about stupid gov't.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  11. hoho

    You don't have to register if you haven't moved...duh.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. TommyT

    This happens all the time due to human error. It just doesn't get any attention when it is not a celebrity, which is most of the time. So, "Former GOP" just chill-out and let it play-out. You sound like a Salem Witch Hunter! Only when you can prove that it was delibert mal-intent, beyond a resonable doubt, should you even be mentioning jail. That is the problem with this country, today, too many Drama Queens, and too little competence.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Beth in STL, MO

    You go, Tim Robbins. Ba-rock your right to vote!

    It's just too bad that it takes a celebrity with a problem to get attention on real and serious issues.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Principally Robbins was right. Practically he is an elitist punk, who would rather make a scene, sic a lawyer on the election workers, and tie up a judge's time to vote outside the boundaries put in place for this type of situation.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  15. John

    Yeah, this makes sense becuase NYC is controlled by Republicans. God he makes me so ill.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  16. Maria W

    I think he owes an apology to the countless people he kept waiting in line so his ego could be fed.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  17. barstow

    I registered dem in Barstow California, and my name my name was not on the roster. I had to do a provisional ballot.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  18. George

    Way to go Tim, its sad that we have to kick tires on election day in America to place our vote.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  19. K.

    I find it really odd that I keep hearing this story today – so many people who have voted in the same place for years are suddenly 'missing' off the registration list at the polls. I think this needs some serious investigation, and with such a close race, I am fearing this problem across the country may cost the election for either candidate.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  20. Alabama for Obama

    Tim Robbins has been brilliant in his activism. Obviously, some republican scrubbed his name. I'm glad he got it straightened out but concerned about those others to whom this may have happened. The presidential election has been stolen from Democrats twice in the past eight years, and if it happens this time, war may break out in this country. We know Obama is ahead - way ahead. If McCain turns up as the winner, it will be grand larceny by the pub machine and everyone knows it.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. clinton muehlenbrock

    democrats are not being fooled this year.

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  22. inthebasement

    Nervous sore loser day!!!!!!Keep your promise,and leave the country.Bwahahahahhahahahahahah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. Concepcion

    People in the USA keep saying it is "THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD" and yes, in many ways it is, BUT WAKE UP, PEOPLE !! IN MANY WAYS IT IS NOT! All you have to do is travel and you'll see what I mean, I personally have lived for at least one year in six different countries in three continents and I know FOR SURE that is country is lagging in so many ways and these factors have international ratings: education, health care, senior care, quality of life, etc, AND NOW THIS, with Tim Robbins and others !! In many third world countries people like Jimmy Carter go as independant observers.....I think the USA now needs to invite first-rate countries to come and help us figure out a first-rate, standardized voting system. Until then we need to invite international observers to make sure there is no hanky panky !!!

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  24. LiberalChris

    Okay two things come to mind. Why the hell isn't Election Day a national holiday? It seems to work pretty good in Europe and our neighbors to the north. Also I think our representatives at the state level should be sending out their staffers before the election to get everyone registered. I only think that system would be fair considering the fact that our representatives are there to serve the people anyway.

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  25. analysis

    So basically a bunch of you think that there are no Republicans in New York City (despite having voted in two Republican mayors out of the last two mayors) and that liberal actors shouldn't be allowed to vote?

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
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