June 7, 2005

Report contains great ideas for voting reform

This sounds like an excellent way to go...
The nation's election administrators say it's time to restructure elections to reflect the way Americans live, scrapping neighborhood precincts and Election Day for large, customer-oriented "vote centers" where people could cast ballots over a period of weeks.

Such centers eliminate confusion over where to vote, since everyone in a county can vote at any center; reduce lines by allowing for more equipment and staff at fewer locations; and prevent mistakes by better marshaling well-trained election officials along with day workers.

Doyle sought and won a change in state law that allowed him to replace 143 precincts with 20 vote centers. Larger facilities — hotel ballrooms and state fairgrounds — allow easier access and parking for voters, and more efficient concentration of resources for administrators.

"There's an opportunity here to better meet our voters' needs and save millions of dollars," Doyle said. With vote centers, the county can save several hundred thousand dollars by buying fewer handicapped-accessible voting machines, since the new federal law requires one at each polling location, he said.

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At 6/07/2005 12:53 PM, Blogger DownLeft said...

This is already happening in early voting states like Tennessee during their early voting period. A city the size of Moline might have 5 or 6 places to vote for that two week period.

I'm not sure I like that idea for election day though. Imagine what the lines might be like. It would be easy to disenfranchise an entire section of a city with very long lines, something that happens at the precinct level on a smaller scale.

At 6/07/2005 3:22 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

What happens to the poor people who don't have a vehicle but want to vote? When the voting centers aren't as close as your nearest school or church, the voting demographic might shift to people with cars.

At 6/08/2005 3:43 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

downleft, the problem of long lines and overcrowding would be largely solved by the expanded period during which people could vote. In other words, everyone wouldn't have to vote during one 12 hour period on one day, but would have perhaps a week or more in which to vote at any time during business hours.

And QCI, that's a good point. Fewer and more scattered polling place would create a bit of a hardship for those without transportation. But... the partys have extensive "ride to the polls" services and I'm sure they'd be happy to give anyone who wishes to vote a ride.

All in all, I think this would greatly expand the number of people who vote, as with the greatly expanded voting period, it would mean that at least sometime during that period, people would be able to get to a voting center.

The fact that it would allow for more highly trained and competent judges and election officials is also a big plus.

At 6/08/2005 11:57 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Dope I appreciate your positive not to the idea - but playing the advocate here let me poke a few holes. We all know the candidates could never wait 2 weeks to see the results. The folks with the inside track and or the money could find out the exit polling and maybe some hard numbers as the days move on --and pump up their advertising in whatever medium they use and then the election could get easily spoiled or turn on a dime with the info age we live in now. The Media would have daily hourly updates and predictions and it could get nuts.

Right now it's tough to keep the National Media from calling the Prez race too soon remember?

So if you can lock it up with a key tightly maybe ok change to that and try it- but if it's loose and has holes in the info stream - watch out for some real bad fraud worse than we can imagine....

At 6/08/2005 5:08 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I don't think the new system would lead to more fraud. I think it will make it easier to prevent fraud and abuse in that there are fewer voting machines to secure and less movement of the machines to and from polling places, less messing around trying to get counts, etc.

Anytime you can reduce the number of times the machines have to be moved or tabulated, you reduce the chances for error or fraud.

As far as the aspect of partial results being leaked, I suppose that could be a factor. I would imagine though that there are methods to keep this information totally secret however. If ballots were simply gathered and stored during the voting period and not counted until the close of the polls, there wouldn't be a count to leak.

Partial results should be kept absolutely secret, as they could certainly affect final tallies. For instance, if Candidate A leaps out to an amazing lead early in the polling period and that information was leaked, it might depress turnout for Candidate B due to people thinking that there was no chance for him or her to win, or it might at the same time depress voting for Candidate A due to the impression that he or she has it locked up.

Exit polls could be done. They're done now anyway, and I think as long as either side can adjust their last week's campaign, it would be equitable.


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