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

Actor waged 5-hour battle to cast vote

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Colleen

    good for you Mr Robbins, thank you for standing up for folks who might not have the ability to do it themselves...sometimes you just have to do what is right..I commend you...

    November 4, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. Anonymous


    November 4, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. C from MT

    I know Mr. Robbins can seem a little alarmist sometimes, but if this really happened, something had better be done. We are too advanced of a civilization to put up with anything less than 100% accuracy in our most cherished and vital institution. I think reasonable people of all political stripes can agree on that.

    C from MT

    November 4, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  4. David Nelson

    To have the basic mechanics of an election so demonstrably flawed questions the very principles the American Democratic system is based on. And you seem to always get the feeling the Republicans have their fingers in the till somewhere.

    At some point, surely, a national standard and delivery system has to be discussed to avoid these questions that hang over the American Democratic process.

    November 4, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. Griff

    Barack Obama's Adventure's! Is History for America...
    Not Canada! We have you're Dollar Covered...
    Canada! Bi/Vocal!. With the Whole of the European community, on their side. America your going down! ! Barack Obama is taking you with him, into Oblivion.

    November 4, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. windfall

    the fascists deleted him from the roles. and so it begins...

    November 4, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. Rob

    This makes me sick, as a voter and an American, that our rights can be denied by 'arbitrary' mistakes.

    I believe a serious investigation should be undertaken into this voter fraud.

    And yes, denying U.S. Citizens the right to vote is voter fraud.

    I drove two of my republican friends to the polls this morning, even though I am a staunch Democrat. At least I can say I believe in the right of every American to vote.

    This is much worse than Gerrymandering, at least that was done in the open.

    November 4, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. Red, Red WHINE!!

    Republicans throwing out peoples documents and disenfranchising them from their right to vote.

    It's treason and people should be charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, up and including capital punishment. This is an absolute disgrace and completely corrupt by the GOP!

    November 4, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. Buck

    Isn't he the guy from Shawshank Redemption?

    November 4, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. Bill Scott

    I pay my Federal and State taxes along with completing other financial transactions from the comfort of my home on my computer. These transactions use SSL technology to keep them secured. Online voting should be an option. It's secure and traceable.
    San Jose, CA

    November 4, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  11. tape1227

    In that district they must have thought he was a republican to remove him from the rolls.

    November 4, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Chris

    This is ridiculous. There is absolutely no reason to purge a name from the rolls when the person has been voting at the same location for years. My guess is that some enterprising idiot believed the hype about ACORN registering Mickey Mouse and decided to purge famous sounding names.

    November 4, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  13. Chris

    Shawshank Redemption ruled.

    November 4, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  14. Elias

    Bipartisan...I don't think so. When the lines are longest in minority and poor (usually liberal) districts, it's hard to make the bipartisan problem argument.

    November 4, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. Jordan M

    Tim Robins sets a standard to which all people should fight for their right to vote. It is one of our most important freedoms within the land of the free. Good on him for making the incident as public as he has, as he is reminding us all of our duties to protect our own individual rights and freedoms.

    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. Missouri in Philly

    Wow, an actor grandstanding, what a surprise. Tim, your vote doesn't matter in NYC - it's a bunch of Dems running the election there and every one there is a Dem and they all vote Dem. What are you trying to prove? It must be the right wing conspiracy, trying to swing about 4-5 million votes...

    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. Democrats No Matter What!!

    I agree with the first person here. There needs to be an investigation and somebody needs to go to jail.

    While that is happening, the whole process in this country needs to be fixed and it needs to be one of the top priorities! Had this been fixed before, maybe we wouldn't have had to endure 8 years of Bushism.

    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. Travis (MN)

    Went to vote today, had no problems after having moved to my new location. My roommate went to vote at the same place and was denied. We both have the new address on our driver's license. The only difference was that I went in the morning and she went in the afternoon. How does that work??

    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  19. beth

    It makes me sick...I keep praying that this election isn't stolen like the last two. You have to wonder...there are ATM machines all over the world and you can get money...but there isn't a way to have reliable voting machines...hmmm

    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  20. PA Girl

    In reality, the old hippie Robbins probably never even votes. He's just making it up as he goes along. Anyone who was interested in voting in this election had their driver's license and voter registration card in hand when lining up at the desk. Robbins is a ultra liberal socialist fool.

    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  21. jodi

    it seems as though the democrats always have a conspiracy theory going on... someone is always out to get them.


    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    That's nice he was able to vote using a regular ballot and not forced to use a provisional ballot like I was this morning. My mail ballot was never sent to my house. After repeated attempts to rectify the situation, I was told yesterday by the registrar of voters to just show up at the poll & vote there. When I did, they told me I had to use a provisional ballot. In the mean time, the registrar of voters knows that a shipment of mail ballots never made their destination. My question is, what happened to all those mail ballots? Did someone intercept them and use them for their own agenda? What happens in a month when I call in to see if my provisional ballot counted and it did not? The voting system needs some serious overhauls.

    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  23. Brian

    Same thing happened to me in Brooklyn. I got a letter from the NYC board of elections informing me of my polling place and when I arrived, no dice. I filled out an emercengy paper ballot which should be counted tonight...

    I say my roomates name on the rolls, not mine. Very unsettling.

    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  24. Ned

    At this point, are any of us suprised? It looks like they've been lying to us for at least eight years so far, and have not failed to keep up the track record today. And yes, this is on both sides of the fence. VOTE OBAMA, I DID.

    November 4, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  25. Cheryl

    I agree that there needs to be a high degree of accountability. It's inexusable that a democracy cannot manage an election with any more integrity than those countries who long ago gave in to a culture of corruption. God bless Tim for his willingness to see it through.

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