Solution to Problems on Election Day

This is really an “aside” post from today’s election… but there have yet again been a handful of problems across the country — most of them, heck nearly all of them are problems related to the opening of precincts.
- Machines aren’t working right…
- One poll worker wipes the electronic card activators…
- Optical scan machines aren’t working right…

Here is The State of Sunshine solution: fewer precincts.

Early voting has taught us an important lesson. Voting technology has improved to the point that going to someplace a few blocks from your home is no longer really necessary. Heck, look at the long list of polling places in Hillsborough County alone! Now compare that list to the early voting locations (DOC).

Pros:
1 – There would be less of a need for poll workers. This would allow local Supervisors of Elections to provide better training. Most of the workers are retirees, who are really the only ones who can devote the time to training before hand and all day on election day. These people deserve our thanks and gratitude. However, they also provide a dilemma for elections supervisors because of the level of training necessary; especially the learning curve involved with new technology.

2 – With fewer locations, there would be more machines in each location. This reduces the chances of not having enough working machines for the voters. It also spreads the demand out — many precincts have few voters while others nearby will be inundated; spreading the supply of machines to the demand would make it easier to vote.

3 – Reduced costs to the taxpayers. The Supervisors of Elections would not have to pay rent for some facilities and would not have to hire as many workers. While this amount of savings may be small compared to overall budgets, the fiscal conservative side of us likes the concept.

4 – The technology that can be used during early voting to prevent duplicate voting would enable elections supervisors to allow people to vote anywhere in their county. Vote close to work, close to your kids schools, or close to home. Your choice. We at State of Sunshine are major proponents of early voting — but at least bringing some of the convenience of voting to Election Day would make voting easier.

Cons:
1 – There could be an argument about disenfranchising minority voters. Yes, minorities tend to be less able to travel larger distances to vote. However, because we already know this is an issue – Supervisors of Elections can plan accordingly. Supervisors could work with minority community leaders to ensure there are enough accessible polling places in these communities. Additionally, some of the cost savings (see above) could be used to provide free public transit in these communities to transport minority voters to polling places.

2 – Making it easier to vote is not good for Republicans. I would argue quite the contrary. The GOP has perfect the art of GOTV (Get Out The Vote). From microtargeting to constant pushing using phone banks and precinct walks, Republican volunteers are able to turn out Republican voters in a big big big way. Making it even easier to vote would only add to this advantage. (It’s like the way cutting taxes actually increases tax collections).

Anyway, we know this will never come to fruition. But it would solve some of the problems, and make voting a whole lot easier.

Of course, it could cause problems for exit pollsters… but that’s another story.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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4 Responses to Solution to Problems on Election Day

  1. Joel says:

    Yes indeed, people are very concerned over the welfare of exit pollsters.

    I say your idea sounds great. Combine it with a return to paper ballots and people might actually be confident in the central cog of democracy.

    Another pro for those concerned with voting problems – less precincts to monitor.

  2. The problem is we need to go back to optical scanning (NOT punchcard) ballots, not reduce the number of precincts. Personally, I don’t trust the electronic machines because they’re not giving out paper backups. We used to use the optical ballots here in Charlotte County, and if they ever had to recount, it was easy to to a manual recount because people marked the bubble next to their candidate’s name. There were no hanging chads, no guesswork, no disappearing electronic votes.

    But one has to question why they continuously have such a problem on the east coast with voting? Does the blame lay with the supervisors of elections over there, the voters, the pollworkers, or all three?

  3. Our problem with Optical Scan is the time they take — both to fill out by the voter and to have the machine count them. In smaller counties (Charlotte, Leon, etc), optical scan systems can work. In larger counties, they would cause more problems than they solve.

    As for a paper record, we could support them — but they are not a panacea either. In Ohio, the so called “under the glass” system, where you see the printed receipt and confirm your vote, but you can’t touch the paper, had problems: paper jams, poor readability, and paper supplies. Moreover, studies found that as many as a third of the voters never bothered to look at the paper, just the screen.

  4. Yes indeed, people are very concerned over the welfare of exit pollsters.

    Heh.

    Well, newscasters and bloggers are.

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