After the Election: Making Voting Easier

Friday, November 09, 2012

Casting a ballot at one of New York's consolidated polling sites. (Stephen Nessen)

Larry Norden, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, discusses obstacles to ballot access and what can be done to make voting less of a chore.


Larry Norden

Comments [10]

Bob from Westchester

I did not have a long wait, but I agree that the bottleneck is always the poll worker looking for each person's name in the one book. This is often compounded by the age of many poll workers (which I share), many of whom have trouble hearing your name and/or reading through the small print of the roll books -- problems which get worse as the day goes on and fatigue (especially eye fatigue) sets in. A couple of suggestions:
1.) Allow for split shifts: right now poll workers in NY are supposed to work the entire 6am through 9pm day -- brutal for anybody, and especially for seniors who make up the bulk of the work force. Why not have 2 or 3 shifts?
2.) Instead of printing out the roll books from computer records, provide screens for reading (and even for signing in, as CVS, Duane Reade, Home Depot, etc. do). Poll workers could then increase the screen font size to a comfortable reading level.
3.) Give the supervisors more training and then more leeway to use common sense. For example, having voters on line wait while the poll workers are ordered to fill out their time sheets all at the same time makes no sense, but when the workers (not the waiting voters) objected, pointing out that it was only 11am and they would be there for another 10 hours, the supervisor said that that the regulations required it be done then, all at once.

Nov. 09 2012 12:19 PM

It all boils down to the problem that we don't have a national ID card, like other countries do, hence people who are not on the internet cannot vote electronically. Wake up America!

Nov. 09 2012 12:01 PM

One solution is easy....

In the weeks leading up to an election, every registered voter receives their 'One Use Only' vote card. The card can used at an ATM to cast their vote. They can also present this card at the standard polling place on Election Day. No card means you'll need to vote on a provisional ballot - and if the provisional ballot voter conflicts with an electronic card ballot, somebody has to be prosecuted.

The algorithm and encryption method of these cards change between elections or the actual cards are shuffled - randomly - among the voting districts.

Nov. 09 2012 11:52 AM
suzanne from manhattan

It's not race, it's voters likely to be democrats. In very affluent Virginia that is Democretic Northern Virginia my politically and civicly active daughter could vote because she works and has two young children. There are not enough polling places in NOVA (northern VA) and it's chronic. My daughter couldn_ take the two girls with her to stand in line for 2 hours while she waited to vote and she has no child care after her work or before the girls are picked up for school. The VA polls also close at 7 pm. In my view this is a deliberate effort by the very conservative VA political establishment to surpress this NOVA voting, the only Democratic part of the state. Remember the voter ID laws and all oth er conservative attempts to target likely Democrats.

Nov. 09 2012 11:51 AM
Douglas from Brooklyn

I think Mr. Norden is a bit off the mark re: voting in New York City. He is right that the problem is not with the paper ballots and optical scanners. However, the problem is not so much with registration as with checking in to obtain the paper ballot. In my experience last Tuesday, some poll workers worked furiously, while others had nothing to do. The reason? Only one book of names exists for each election district, so it is impossible to reallocate workers to lines that are long. I waited 1.5 hours to vote in my ED. Others in Park Slope were done in 10 minutes. Couple this with books that must be signed by voters and cards that must be filled out by hand by election workers and what do you get? Well, it looks like 18th century check-in and 21st century voting.

Nov. 09 2012 11:48 AM

voting like we do in this country where the system is so prone to just human errors is a disgrace. How come it takes Sandy to make voting over the internet like they did in NJ a workable solution?...

Nov. 09 2012 11:45 AM

I don't buy the argument that voting electronically is not safe: how come so many other countries do it already. I am a bi-national and voted over the internet for elections in my original country.

Nov. 09 2012 11:42 AM
John from NYC

It would be nice if the NYC Board of Elections could make the print larger on the ballot instead of my need to use this magnifier to read the ballot.

Nov. 09 2012 11:42 AM
Millie from Westchester

I found filling in the bubbles to be very difficult. It's hard to see the small circle that needs to be filled in. Additionally the shared table shook, making it even harder. Finally, there was little to no privacy. Someone was standing behind me, and looking over my shoulder.

Nov. 09 2012 11:42 AM

i had to wait 45 minutes on the upper east side. that has never happened
and by the way other than the mostly black poll workers there was only 1 black man in the whole room.
the major line in not the scanning part. it was waiting for the poll worker to look me up in their m to z book. that's where the bottleneck is!

Nov. 09 2012 11:04 AM

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