Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting, 2012

I'm too distracted by the election to write much, but here are a couple of links that everyone should read:

  • From Salon, a careful look at the outrageous, last-minute, secret software updates to the voting machines in a bunch of Ohio counties. The changes were initiated by that prince of a guy, John Husted, the Republican-first secretary-of-state-second. (Not to mention the changes he made to provisional balloting, also at the last minute.)
  • From The Atlantic, an essay on seven-hour early voting waits in Miami and a plaintive cry to fix this.
What would it take to have a national voting system that guarantees polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. everywhere (or even better, all day Saturday and Sunday instead of Tuesday)? With the same number of voting booths and polling workers per capita registered voters, so there aren't short-to-no lines in some places and hours-long waits in others?

My voting experience today -- in a heavily white, well-to-do area of Saint Paul -- was no waiting at all at 9:10 a.m. A friend who voted in South Minneapolis's Central neighborhood left the line at her polling place in the morning because she had an appointment. When she returned around lunch time to try again, she found the door to her polling place locked:
I abandoned the completely unexpected voting line this AM because I had an appointment. I just went back over the lunch hour and WAS TURNED AWAY! I don't know if I will get a third opportunity to try to vote today.

I was told the building was "at capacity." They had the doors locked and only because I [pounded on the door] did they open them to give me that excuse.

Who knows how many people just walked away when they couldn't get in, given the demographics (e.g. high non-English speakers, many new voters, high poverty, etc.) of my neighborhood.
This voter is pretty tied in and made a series of calls, including to her city council member, who responded to the Facebook post: "they have long lines at Green Central. Elections staff is conferring with the judges to makes sure things are more smooth at that location. Also, park staff will be coming out more frequently to talk to voters and let them know why there is a line outside. They also are going to see if they can get coffee or chairs or something for people who have to wait outside the building."

But locking the doors? What? Let a line form outside and manage it, for pete's sake.

Let's all make a pledge to not to forget about this once the election is over -- I, for one, promise! And I'm going to sign up to be an election judge, too.

Minnesota Public Radio has a live blog going for the night, already chock full of stuff I haven't read yet. It's being compiled by Jon Gordon, who created the excellent Future Tense podcast.

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