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Thu Nov 8, 2012, 05:54 PM

Five ways to make long elections lines shorter ~ Washington Post

...1) Modernize voter registration. Over and over, vote-watchers said that this was one of the biggest problems Tuesday. Voters would get to the front of the line and find out that they weren’t on the registration lists, for whatever reason. That caused confusion and delay. In some cases, it meant people couldn’t vote. In most cases, it meant longer lines.

The good news? “This is a very solvable problem,” said Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice. “We have the technology to do it.” States can reduce errors by improving their online registration systems or by making registration automatic at various points, as when people receive their drivers’ licenses. Many states are moving in this direction, but not all. An upgraded system could also help keep track of voters’ registration status when they move.

Congress could also chip in. The Voter Empowerment Act, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) would upgrade voter-registration standards across the country and make same-day registration more common. It would also create more ways to register voters automatically, such as students at public universities.

2) Make sure local jurisdictions keep their polling stations well-equipped. Another reason that many polling stations had long waits Tuesday was that they were simply ill-prepared, said Mary Boyle of Common Cause. Stations ran out of ballots. Their machines broke down. The poll workers were unprepared. “We had reports of stations where people were voting on one machine when ten were supposed to be working,” she said. Likewise, said Pamela Smith of VerifiedVoting, many states use older machines that are prone to glitches — when they break, that bogs everything down.

Congress is well within its rights to set national standards for federal elections and provide enough money for stations to upgrade their infrastructure and train poll workers. This happened in 2002, when Congress passed the Help America Vote Act to help states replace their outdated punch-card and lever systems. But that money has since dried up — even as new problems have arisen with the newer electronic machines.

3) The Senate could actually confirm nominees to head up the Election Assistance Commission. Back in 2002, Congress set up this nonpartisan federal commission to aid local jurisdictions with things like certifying electronic voting machines or coming up with contingency plans in case of a disaster. But to date, the panel has no commissioners sitting on it, as Republicans in the Senate have blocked the nominees. (The commission is supposed to have two Democrats and two Republicans.) Having a functioning commission, said Weiser, might have helped states such as New York and New Jersey that found themselves scrambling to set up voting alternatives after Hurricane Sandy.

4) Expand early voting. Allowing people to vote early can help alleviate the pressure on Election Day. But not all states allow early voting. And this year, some states, like Ohio and Florida, cut back on early voting at the last minute, causing chaos and longer waits. Here, too, Congress could set national standards on early voting, so that the process isn’t left to state officials who may often have partisan reasons for mucking with the schedule. “When we see such broad problems across so many states as we did this year,” said Weiser, “it may be appropriate for Congress to act.”

Another related, long-proposed idea would be to make Election Day a national holiday. That way more people can vote at different times throughout the day, easing the wait.

...

More at www.washingtonpost.com

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Reply Five ways to make long elections lines shorter ~ Washington Post (Original post)
mzmolly Nov 2012 OP
PuppyBismark Nov 2012 #1
mzmolly Nov 2012 #2
Retrograde Nov 2012 #3
mzmolly Nov 2012 #4
Retrograde Nov 2012 #5
mzmolly Nov 2012 #6

Response to mzmolly (Original post)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 06:12 PM

1. Easier and MUCH Cheaper

Follow the Oregon State model, everyone votes by mail.

Just think of the savings:

Millions of dollars saved by eliminating voting machines
Millions of dollars saved by not having to staff all the voting locations
Eliminate registration problems, you get a ballot, you vote


See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postal_voting|

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Response to PuppyBismark (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 06:44 PM

2. I would not personally be comfortable with that, unless...

I had a numeric code that could be used to confirm that my vote was received and my vote for Obama etc. was properly recorded. Perhaps an online and/or telephone confirmation system?

I still prefer a paper trail of some sort, along with a recorded tabulation ala computer.

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Response to mzmolly (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:03 PM

3. Can't speak for Oregon, but in my county in CA

I can check when my ballot was sent, received back, and counted on the county registrar's web site.

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Response to Retrograde (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 07:08 PM

4. Can you verify that the vote

was properly recorded? Sounds great otherwise.

Also, what is the remedy for a vote that isn't received?

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Response to mzmolly (Reply #4)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 08:00 PM

5. Provisional ballot on election day

There is a process for casting a provisional ballot at one's polling place on election day if the mail-in ballot isn't received. As to whether my vote for Joe Blow is actually counted as a vote for Joe Blow - ultimately, the paper ballots are scanned in and counted electronically. I suppose that one could do a manual recount on all the paper ballots, but by that time they've all be separated from their envelopes (which contain the name and address of the voter). so the counters don't know who belongs to which ballot. The ballots are numbered, with the number also printed on a piece the voter tears off and keeps, so if I really, really wanted to track mine down (and could get a judge to agree, I suppose) I could find it.

At some point, every system comes down to trust that it will work the way it is supposed to for all voters. With mail-in ballots, it's always possible to "lose" some, or, as in the case last week in Oregon, for the election officials to fill in what they think is the correct vote.

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Response to Retrograde (Reply #5)

Thu Nov 8, 2012, 08:49 PM

6. Good to know that the ballots are scanned.

That sounds like an efficient system, allowing for audits if necessary.

Thanks for the info.

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