Will Obama Really Change The Way We Vote?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Voting Booth (Mortimer62/flickr)

President Obama mentioned long voting lines in his three major speeches since being re-elected:

On Election Night:

Whether you voted for the very first time, or waited in line for a long time -- by the way, we have to fix that!

At the Inauguration:

Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.

During the State of the Union:

When any American, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied that right because they can’t afford to wait for five or six or seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals.

But do three mentions signal real change? Wendy Weiser, Director of the Democracy Program at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, discusses the Obama commission on voting reform and what changes could be implemented before the next time Americans go to the poll.


Caller Eric Does His "VoterPhone" Impersonation


Comments [35]

"Will Obama Really Change The Way We Vote?"

Well, it looks like another project that no one will be able to identify the components of until after it's passed.

Even in New York City's monumentally mismanaged election process, how many of you waited 4 hours to vote in the last presidential election?

Feb. 15 2013 01:00 AM
Linda from Succasunna

If there are multiple voting days, the Officials in charge of the Count should be prohibited from releasing preliminary results. Results should not be released until the end of the last day of voting.

Feb. 14 2013 05:47 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

There needs to be Voter ID to ensure the person about to vote is the person registered to vote.

Feb. 14 2013 11:52 AM

The protest at St. Patricks was actually jointly planned by ACT UP and WHAM to equally address the Cardinal's anti-abortion activities at the time--and his support for Operation Rescue

Feb. 14 2013 11:26 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Our Declaration of Independence establishes our belief that all men are politically equal. No ones vote counts more than any other vote. However, this segment and the stories of barriers to access demonstrate how far we have to go in order to achieve that political equality.

Elections, however, affect a citizen once or twice each year. Education - facilities, teachers, curricula - are loci of inequality that some of our citizens experience EVERY DAY. Imagine what happens if the same ratio of inequality - 6 hrs. for some, ten minutes for others - is what happens inside of some of our schools.

Feb. 14 2013 10:45 AM
Estelle from Brooklyn

At my small polling place (a day care center in Brooklyn), the line was out the door and around the block by 11 am. The poll workers told me that they would close the doors at 9 pm even if it meant locking out hundreds of people waiting outside.

Feb. 14 2013 10:31 AM

I don't understand. Having double citizenship, my son and I both just voted (by mail) for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Italy. Even that (almost third world) Country has a fairly well functioning system for voting by mail.
But apparently voting by mail (or electronically) is a problem in the US.
Could it be because there is no secure and uniformly recognized (Federal) ID document?

Feb. 14 2013 10:29 AM

Brian, please ask the guest where these problems were ten, fifteen and twenty years ago. I am 50 and have voted the same way since I was 18, never stood in line for more than 10 minutes, signed the book and used the paper ballot and the issues raised here were non-existent. 10 miles west of NYC-not in the sticks.

Some of this is very questionable... at the least.

Feb. 14 2013 10:28 AM
Jeff in Manhattan

What about mandatory voting? It works in Australia. We have no problem making jury duty mandatory; why not voting?

Feb. 14 2013 10:26 AM
CH from Westchester

Thank you for this conversation. I am not sure why my state NY is relatively un-vote friendly with only "excuse" absence voting and no early voting per se. I need to do homework and understand how we can change this. Yes, we know FL and some other states have especially challenging "issues" with vote suppression but believe we have work to do here as well. This is a catalyst for me to hear more.

Feb. 14 2013 10:25 AM
Jf from Ny

More than 3 machines for 10000 people at my polling place in bed stuy

Feb. 14 2013 10:23 AM

Caller Eric. That's HILARIOUS dude!!!

Feb. 14 2013 10:23 AM

Thanks for the information Tom.

Feb. 14 2013 10:22 AM

hang up on this guy

Feb. 14 2013 10:22 AM

in NJ you can vote by mail with no reason and no age restriction.

Feb. 14 2013 10:21 AM
Amy from Manhattan

What's the potential for hacking in the technological solutions that are being proposed? Remember the concerns over the electronic voting machines?

Feb. 14 2013 10:21 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Just make election Tuesday a work holiday, and those who absolutely have to work, such as first responders and hospital personnel, could vote by mail as do soldiers. Disabled people should also have the option of voting by mail. Proof of citizenship, such as a copy of birth certificate or copy of passport, could be sent by mail as well.

Feb. 14 2013 10:20 AM
Bonn from East Village

Give higher salaries to the workers so that you have more competent people. I waited unnecessarily in the East Village on an ever-growing line because there were only two workers - one who was searching for names (and could barely read) and the other who watched. I said, "Why aren't you also looking in your book?" (J-Z), and she said, "Because it's under his book." "I said, "Then take it." Which she did, and then the line moved faster.
Also, in Europe voting is on the weekends when people are off from work.

Feb. 14 2013 10:20 AM
Audrey from Gowanus

Improve absentee voting! My husband went to Texas to visit his family and was away on Election Day, so weeks in advance he applied for an absentee ballot, and NEVER received one! Completely unacceptable. He didn't get to vote. Voting by mail scares me a bit for that reason.

Feb. 14 2013 10:20 AM
Stewart from Brooklyn

As a possibly former poll worker, I find that the sign in process is what slows the line so much. A poll worker has to find the name in a book that lists all the names in the district, while a second is trying to write the name on a card with the correct spelling. This is very slow.

I am against remote voting as there is no protection against coercion by family members or outsiders. When you go into the booth, your vote is private.

Feb. 14 2013 10:20 AM

Max, I agree. We're not an agrarian based country without cars anymore. A push toward the 21 century is on order.

Feb. 14 2013 10:19 AM

1) every place I've ever lived I get a ballot in the mail though I never asked for it
2) if u make voting day a holiday people will get drunk
3) no 102 year old woman waited 8 hours to vote
4) busy voting days it takes longer to vote (mainly because the people at the polling place have little idea what they are doing)
5) how many people vote anyway? 25%
6) we should not give the president the authority to kill Americans w/o charges

Feb. 14 2013 10:19 AM
Tom from Toronto

Hi Rich,

A big plus for us Canadians is that we have an Independent, non-partisan agency that handles the whole voting process.... Elections Canada. Everything ends up being very smooth as a result.

The whole voter suppression mindset is completely foreign to us here.

Feb. 14 2013 10:19 AM
The Truth from Becky

MY OPINION: Bad idea "time slots based on your last name", time slots period and a good idea "national holiday for national elections"

Feb. 14 2013 10:19 AM

Make Sept. 11th a national holiday - First Responder's Day - and have that be the day we vote.

Feb. 14 2013 10:18 AM

One person. One vote. Whatever is done, this needs to be paramount. More technology in voting is actually quite dangerous.

Feb. 14 2013 10:18 AM
Max from northern NJ

Why is Tuesday sacred? (1) One person one vote (eliminate the slave-owner motivated Electoral College), (2) multi-day voting, (3) weekend voting.

Feb. 14 2013 10:17 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

A citizen should be able to vote at an ATM machine - we've saved the banks bacon, now it's time for them to give something back.

Feb. 14 2013 10:16 AM
Er-nay from UWS

How much of the problem are the poll workers themselves? They are low-paid and employed for a day or two at most. They really don't know what they are doing. Should we not invest more time and recourses with better training?

Feb. 14 2013 10:16 AM
charlene from bridgeport

Part of the problem is Jerrymandering. Once the government gets a hold of that then maybe there may be a way to reform the wait process in voting.

Feb. 14 2013 10:15 AM

Tom, what are the salient features of your voting system that make it a quicker process?

Feb. 14 2013 10:13 AM
pliny from soho

what about privacy
the lady who scanned my vote
looked at all my selections
this could be intimidating
in some situations

Feb. 14 2013 10:13 AM
shaneeza aziz from Brooklyn

What about time slots based on your last name??

Feb. 14 2013 10:13 AM
The Truth from Becky

It is/was a calculated move that voters wait twice as long in urban areas.

Feb. 14 2013 10:12 AM
Tom from Toronto

Us Canadians look at your voting process and just shake our heads.

At most, we might wait 30 mins... max. 6 hours?? C'mon.

Feb. 14 2013 10:09 AM

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