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. Anonymous

    whoever thought it was a good idea to "accidentally" remove tim robbins from the list shoul've known better. thank God Tim Robbins has the influence to get the issue fixed but what about all the other people "missing" from the lists. how can we export democracy to other countries when we are unwilling to practice it here?

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  2. Stevekr

    You don't need an explanation, Tim. You're a well-known liberal. Too bad for the millions of other voting liberals who don't have the clout that you have. Oh well, time to go home and watch the right-wing steal another election...

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  3. karen

    good on tim for fighting for his right to use the machine. that was no coincidence.

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |

    So, based upon Tim Robbins's experience, we're to believe that in one of the most liberal areas of one of the most liberal cities in the country there was some type of right-wing conspiracy against him? Give me a break. He probably forgot to register.

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  5. M Morehouse, DC

    Well there does seem to be equality in the injustice of our voting system: even famous stars are being denied to vote!!!

    I do hope that a NY election official will provide some answers on the many voting issues that seems to be happening in the stae of NY, which is a total surprise to me.

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  6. Sarah

    Horrid debacle of 2000? It wasn't horrid for the Republicans, it put them in power for the next 8 years. Why on earth would they fix something they don't see as a problem? Voter fraud is not a bipartisan issue; only one party is being disenfranchised. The only real question here is why that party hasn't raised holy hell about it before now.

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  7. David

    I have noticed that most of the complaints coming in are from Democrats.

    How does voting registration work in the US?

    I've never seen such problems up here in Canada. I can register in minutes with a couple of pieces of ID. During tax season we can always check a box that allows Elections Canada to put us the list of voters for the next federal election.

    The US really needs to put a nationalize the voter registration and the and the voting process so that their is a national standard for voting instead of continuing with a mishmash of voting methods.

    Up here in Canada we have an organization known as Elections Canada that oversees the entire election from registering voters to overseeing the polling stations and counting the ballots-no political involvement whatsoever. Each political party puts observers in place to observe and sign off on the counting of the ballots.

    This should be an much easier process and such an idea does nothing to take a states independence.

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  8. Proud to be American

    Wow – if this happen to him I wonder how many others this has happened too? that is just wrong.

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  9. cajunfarmer

    I guess ACORN got his name mixed up with a republican

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  10. Donna - Los Angeles

    How prophetic. When Tim Robbins was on The Bill Maher Show a couple of weeks ago. He was warning people of things like this happening and had suggested that people have videocams to document the problems. Seems like he knew of which he spoke.

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. Kelly

    Horrid situation we have in this country?...third world countries are better? Are you kidding me? You probably think Chavez is elected in a democratic process each year as well? No one was shot at, no families were kidnapped or threatened. Men and woman of all colors are welcome to cast their vote and have it count...It is probably a simple error, that had an alternative process in place...the provisional ballot. It was his choice to push the issue through a court. Shame on you and feel free to move to one of those third world countries that you feel is so much better.

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  12. S. Allee

    My name, too wasn't on the General Election list, however my name WAS on the "fail safe" list, and I WAS able to vote. I don't know what all the whinning is all about.

    November 4, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  13. Sandy in Washington

    Way to go, Tim Robbins! Thank you for sticking your neck out and defending your right to vote. Your noteriety on this issue will – hopefully – help shed some much-needed light on the issue of election process accountability in this country. The process of voting has become unnecessarily complicated over the years. It's time to address one method of voting for all states, counties and municipalities.

    November 4, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. David B

    Typical republican response to a serious issue. A person was almost illegally denied their right to vote, and you just call him and his wife names. You are the republicans are just perfect.

    November 4, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  15. Mark

    Yes, right. Jail. Give me a break. If there were some "sinister power" removing liberal democrats from the polls, they're not going to pick someone like Tim Robbins. It makes no sense to intentionally do something like that to a high profile voter. Do it to some liberal dem with no recourse. The end result would be the same.

    November 4, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |

    Mr Robbins predicted exactly what was going to happen, but I wonder if even he expected it to happen to him. He has the political savvy, intelligence and courage to fight for his rights, but how many people today accepted the provisional ballots, or simply gave up? Like "former gop", I don't believe this was coincidence.

    November 4, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  17. osimbo

    There is no reason why Mr. Robbins name should not be on the list. I think that they had enough time to review the list and make sure that everyones name is on the list. We had the same problem at our polling station... but it was fixed

    November 4, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. Ronda in Washington State

    Aside from the obvious solution of requiring the NATIONAL use of paper ballots (tabulated by machines), we also need to agitate for the prosecution of voter suppression. This has long been a tactic of the Republican Party (no references needed... google it) and we need to put these people IN JAIL. This goes on in every election, and we Dems have just rolled over and hoped for people to show their better natures in the future.
    NO MORE!

    November 4, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  19. Sandy (WI)

    I'm glad Tim Robbins has made his ordeal public–I'm a college student in Wisconsin who faced the same problem today. I was pre-registered to vote, with registration card from the city in hand, when I went to the polls. The pollsters said my name wasn't on their list and kept me waiting for an hour as they tried "calling the city" (whatever that means??) and getting no answer. They finally allowed me to re-register, using, ironically, my voter registration card as proof of my address (4 people were needed to approve that move, despite a gov. stamp on the card).

    I wasn't alone, either. Three other female students faced the exact same predicament along with me, and for the hour and a half I was at the polls, almost 1 out of 5 people was told their name wasn't on the list. Some re-registered, others left instead of waiting in line for more hours.

    So much for the "get out the vote" movement and cries from the media, our professors, and politicians to go to the polls. We are going to the polls–now let us vote.

    November 4, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  20. mark

    The election lasts months and months.. it all comes down to today.. and they still can't get it right. I'd love to see more attention given to the plight of voters BEFORE election day. It's always pathetic to see how many articles come out on the day of... where was the hype last week when we still had a chance to fix this mess. If McCain steals this election like Bush did... I swear... gawd..

    November 4, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  21. shaw

    Good riddance- a featherwieght brain and over blown sense of entitlement.

    I just negated his vote.

    November 4, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    despicable....but if Obama trounces McCain, which is the likely outcome...we are in the clear...if McCain wins....they'll likely be a revolution.

    November 4, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  23. Ellen

    ch, why don't you and your wife go away?

    November 4, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. Jim_Maryland

    Crying conspiracy may be a bit hasty. I went to vote this morning and my name was on the inactive voter list, even though my wife and I have been voting at the same site since we moved into the state in 1997. In my case, I was able to simply verify my information along with my drivers license and I was able to vote. Given Tim had a rough time, maybe we need to consider moving to a standardized federal election process rather than having the states select it.

    November 4, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  25. kevin

    Tim Robbins is awesome, did these people not see Top Gun?? President Bush himself should have hand delivered a ballot to him for his exceptional fighter pilot skills.

    November 4, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
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