Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Trans-Atlantic Knowledge Exchange => Topic started by: melbelle39 on November 09, 2012, 04:48:18 AM

Title: Voting
Post by: melbelle39 on November 09, 2012, 04:48:18 AM
Recent stories covering the US election had me thinking....

Why does it take so long to vote???  Stories of people waiting hours and hours in line just blew my mind.  Even if there are alot of people, what they have to do should only take a few minutes right?

Enlighten this little antipodean

For the record...
For us (Aussies) voting is compulsory and always held on a Saturday.
Most polling places are primary schools - you can go to a school in your electorate to vote.  If you're out of your area on election day you can vote in advance at a designated early voting station or on the day go to any polling place and do an absentee vote which is collected separately to local votes.

We show ID to vote, take the ballot paper to a booth (no curtain) fill it in and stick it in the box - no polling machines.

Generally it takes about 20 minutes to vote and that includes purchasing something from the fundraising sausage sizzle and cake stall that the host school puts on (great fundraiser for the schools) and thats it.

We usually get results the same evening unless its close.

So - how do you do it?


Title: Re: Voting
Post by: camlan on November 09, 2012, 05:23:01 AM
I'm not really sure why so many people in parts of the US had to stand in line for hours. I'm guessing that, at least with the early voters, who voted on the weekends leading up to the election, they were simply unprepared for the number of people who decided to take advantage of the early voting. They just didn't have enough voting booths or people checking voters in, or something. Also, you used to have to register to vote well in advance of the election, but now you can register at the polls. This takes a few minutes per person.

Here's what happened when I voted this week, for the first time since I moved to New Hampshire. The voting was at an assisted living facility. Other polls in my city were at schools or the Elks Club. The polls opened right when I had to be at work, so I had to go after work. Got there about 4:15, there was a line out the door. I stood in line for about 20 minutes. Then I had to stand in a shorter line, based on the first initial of my last name, in order to be checked off the voting list. Got my paper ballot, went to a voting booth (with a curtain) and voted. Put the ballot into the ballot box and walked out. Took about 40 minutes.

Had I been able to get there during the day, I suspect it would have taken a lot less time. I'm also in the largest ward in the city, so there are simply more people to process. Many people work at a distance from where they vote, so the evening hours at the polls can get very busy.

There are variations on this. In one state, we had voting machines inside curtained booths. In another, the booths didn't have curtains. Some states have made me show a picture ID, some haven't.

This year, at this polling place, after you voted you could browse a book sale and get a flu shot.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Jones on November 09, 2012, 07:27:49 AM
I'm not sure what's going on in some of those other places either; to be honest, I assumed everyone headed over after work and so there was a huge overflow.

I went over after work myself, took my daughter (who had just gotten out of school). We had no problem as I pre-registered and had my ID in hand. A man behind me in line was quite indignant that he was asked for ID, not hostile just upset. I suppose if there were a lot of people with the same reaction (signs warning the requirement ignored) it could slow them down a lot.

My daughter and I went to one of the booths (computerized) and placed my vote. She was interested in how it worked, which slowed me down a bit, but we were still done in about 5 minutes. I had read up on the clauses that I was voting on beforehand too, I guess if someone was reading the blip by the booth the same day it would take them longer (also explain how Moronic Decision X passed...).
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: blue2000 on November 09, 2012, 07:53:15 AM
Recent stories covering the US election had me thinking....

Why does it take so long to vote???  Stories of people waiting hours and hours in line just blew my mind.  Even if there are alot of people, what they have to do should only take a few minutes right?

<snip>

We usually get results the same evening unless its close.

So - how do you do it?




I'm with you.

The last election we (Canada) had was on a Wednesday, I think? There was a line up of about two or three people when I went to vote, and I thought that was long! But I saw pics of line-ups around the block in the US and stories of 7 hr waits (!!!). We also got the final results no more than a few hours after all the polls closed. Ours close at 6 pm, and the announcements go out by 9 pm, maybe?

Some people in the news are saying some of the lines were caused by sabotage - officials made it harder than it should have been to vote. Can't comment on that since Canada has had election scandals of its own to deal with. :-[
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: WillyNilly on November 09, 2012, 08:29:25 AM
I waited over an hour to vote.  It was a lot of factors:

1. They changed my polling spot.  For the last 10 years in my home I've voted at the elementary school 1/3 of mile from my home.  This year I voted at the Jr High 1/2 a mile from my home.  It appeared they had consolidated sites (although I'm not sure) as we had 16 districts in this new location and I think the old location was only about 6 or 8.

2. Before the first line, I had to find my district.  I suppose I should know... but like most people I didn't.  So I had to wait at the first table behind about 4 folks for poll workers to look up my address to determine I was in district 14.

3. I went to district 14's table and had to wait behind about 8 folks as one by one we gave our name, was found in the big book, had to sign the book and was handed a ballot and a voter number in a manilla folder.

4. I had to find a polling booth (just a small table, standing height with 3 2-foot walls around it for privacy) and fill in my ballot. There wasn't a line for this, but because of the other lines, it took a bit longer to get across the room to a booth.

5. The big line.  This one snaked through the whole place.  This was to scan my ballot.  There were 5 scanners... except 3 were jammed.  So for 16 districts worth of people we had 2 scanners.  The scanning itself took about 15-20 seconds.

So that was the bare bones of it.  But add in, we were in way too small a space.  We should have been in the gym... but I'm in Queens NYC - the gym was a shelter or warming station of some nature due to Hurricane Sandy, so we were in the school hallway.  Yes it was a wide hallway and yes it was long, but no where near big enough.

Also add in because of the storm many poling sites in NY were totally unusable, so the Governor said people could vote at any location, so we had extra people in addition to our 16 districts.

Then finally there was the general lack of coordination of the poll workers.  The line for the scanners started so the line was at the back of the hall, facing the scanners then the way out.  But as it got long it hit the end of the corridor, turned and doubled back and went the full length of the hallway and to just out the door.  Several poll workers weren't paying attention (such as those as the district tables) and just told people to go over to the scanners, thus wasting everyone's time and adding to the crowdedness.  Plus since the line was out the door as people arrived, they didn't know better so they'd stand on the line... only to find out "wait, what?  This is for after you have a ballot?  How do I get a ballot?" and get off that line and start at my #2 above.  Also poorly planned for the reality of the situation was the voting booths.  They were set up so they faced the center of the room and the voter's back was to the wall, down at the back of the hallway.  Well I'm sure that made sense when the hall was empty.  But as the line to scan ended up going all the way back and hugged the turn at the end and folded, that meant the people looking to fill in their ballot had to cut through the scanning line to get to the booths, stand with their back to the line (seriously people on line were mere inches from those voting - one could easily look over someone shoulder and see who they were voting for) then cut back through the line again to double back to the now end of the scanning line (they should have faced outward so the line wrapped around their privacy side and so voters could then just turn and follow the line to the end).
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 09, 2012, 08:41:09 AM
I waited for about half an hour, gave up, came back two hours later, then waited for another hour before the guy overseeing the line jumped me to the front because I had a cranky toddler and a grumpy baby and nobody wanted to hear them fussing.  We saw DH pull up just as we were leaving - he waited about two and a half hours.  (This was mid-afternoon - the people coming before/after work had much longer waits.)

In our case, the main reason there was a holdup was because the polling places rely on volunteers.  People who are free to volunteer during the day for this type of thing tend to be retirees.  Ours were very old, somewhat blind, and very slow.  It took 3x as long as it should have to get checked in to vote.

The other issue was the way they broke up the lines - they split the alphabet into A-G, H-L, and M-Z.  Not surprisingly, the lines with 1/4 of the alphabet apiece were pretty empty, while those of us with names starting in the latter half of the alphabet all had to wait quite a while.  (In the rain, I should add.  Turnout would probably have been more if it had been a nicer day.  Or if our state's outcome for national and state elections hadn't already been pretty much foretold.)

My state does paper ballots, so waiting for voting machines wasn't an issue, but for some reason they only had three or four tables set up when they would have had space for twice that.  I was really glad I had researched all the state amendments ahead of time, because several of them were confusingly worded and I bet it took people several minutes to puzzle through them and figure out what they meant.

I had hoped to show Babybartfast what voting would be like and get her interested in the idea.  Instead she was grumpy, cranky, and barely consoled by my "I voted" sticker.  I'm glad the election is over!
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Seraphia on November 09, 2012, 08:53:44 AM
We didn't have terrible lines, but I live in a fairly small city, and we have the option of either computer voting or paper ballot.

It took maybe 15-20 minutes for DH and I to vote, including time reviewing the ballot before it was printed from the computer. (I'm fussy) It was faster because we knew which district we were voting in (three are handled at our polling place), and didn't have any changes of address. The woman in front of us had just moved, and the poll workers were calling another location to see about her being able to vote there, rather than having to drive across town. I doubt she was the only one with that issue. Plus, we're checked off by hand from a list so we can't vote multiple times. That's no big deal when there's a couple hundred people on that list, but I'd imagine in a big city, it'd be a circus.

In the county where I went to school, there were close to 90,000 votes cast, which isn't unusual for a presidential race, but pretty high for any other election. In addition to the usual logistical issues, some polls may have just not been equipped with enough people/resources to handle that kind of volume. I know that at least one county had the actual counting delayed by a couple hours because their computer system went down at the worst possible time.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: WillyNilly on November 09, 2012, 08:57:42 AM
In our case, the main reason there was a holdup was because the polling places rely on volunteers.  People who are free to volunteer during the day for this type of thing tend to be retirees.  Ours were very old, somewhat blind, and very slow.  It took 3x as long as it should have to get checked in to vote.

Really?  In NY the poll workers are paid over $10 an hour*.  Most people think they are volunteers (at least based on FB comments), and yes they are for the most part extremely elderly (I'd say the average age was over 75 years) and so reading the fine print in the big book of names takes a bit longer, as does hearing people in echo-y spaces with lots of background noise.


*I looked into being a poll worker 4 years ago at the last national election as I was on unemployment at the time.  It was about $12 or $14 an hour, for an 8+ hour shift.  Unfortunately the way unemployment benefits are calculated though, it would have reduced my weekly benefits by more then I'd make in the one day, so it would have ultimately been a financial loss and the experience, although I'm sure interesting, would not have professionally benefited me so I did not do it.  I suspect many poll workers are retirees because pensions & SSI have no penalties or penalties that kick in at higher earnings rates, so for them it is financially profitable.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Two Ravens on November 09, 2012, 09:10:46 AM
Also:
1. Voting in the US takes place on Tuesday. Since this is a normal workday for many people, there tends to be a rush early in the morning and after 4, when people are getting off work.

2. As stated before, poling places to rely on volunteers, which means that due to staffing, sometime there are only a few "voting booths" open.

3. Voting can take time. There are usually a lot of state/local measures that need to be voted on. On my local ballot, they were very wordy, and it took some time to figure out a. what they were about and b. how to vote for/against them

3a. Ballots can be tricky (See the infamous Florida Butterfly Ballot debacle). I have personally witness older folks having to ask volunteers how to vote for who they want to vote for. The poor aids have to walk a very fine line.

4. Sometimes there are errors with the scanners, or the voting machines go down. This can cause a huge back up.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Flora Louise on November 09, 2012, 09:23:21 AM
Chicago here. I took over an hour to vote. Partly due to lines and partly due to the lengthy ballot. We had a Constitutional amendment to vote on (3/5 vote required for pension legislation), a referendum (electric supply), and because we vote for judges in Illinois a ballot with the names of 60 or so sitting judges running for retention (they must receive 60% of the vote to be retained) and another 45 or so candidates running for judge. Takes a while to tick all those boxes.

To top off, our legislature redistricted this year and many folks were in the wrong precincts.

God bless the poll workers.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: CakeBeret on November 09, 2012, 09:25:48 AM
Also:
1. Voting in the US takes place on Tuesday. Since this is a normal workday for many people, there tends to be a rush early in the morning and after 4, when people are getting off work.

2. As stated before, poling places to rely on volunteers, which means that due to staffing, sometime there are only a few "voting booths" open.

3. Voting can take time. There are usually a lot of state/local measures that need to be voted on. On my local ballot, they were very wordy, and it took some time to figure out a. what they were about and b. how to vote for/against them

3a. Ballots can be tricky (See the infamous Florida Butterfly Ballot debacle). I have personally witness older folks having to ask volunteers how to vote for who they want to vote for. The poor aids have to walk a very fine line.

4. Sometimes there are errors with the scanners, or the voting machines go down. This can cause a huge back up.

All this, plus the sheer number of people voting. :)

I live in a rather large suburb and went in around 8am. There was no line and it took less than ten minutes. Others across town had to wait in long lines for an hour or more.

We had paper ballots. I heard that a city north of us used iPads to vote, which was a huge debacle because many of the poll workers did not know how to use them properly.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: HorseFreak on November 09, 2012, 09:26:43 AM
In my state the process is this (it took me about 30 minutes to vote, though those with S last names were waiting up to an hour due to over-representation).

1. Try to find parking at a hotel or other polling place. Almost get in three accidents since all the actual spaces are taken and people are parking everywhere there's open space.

2. Get in big line and wait to be shuttled to another line based on last name. If you were an S while I was there that would be a while.

3. Give your name and ID to a worker who looks you up in a computer generated list. Hope the information is accurate since you'll hold everyone up if you were omitted or there's an error in your name.

4. Worker records your name by hand in a book (and switches your first and middle names if you're me). You sign your name in another book. Worker hands you a paper ballot.

5. Find a place at a folding table to fill in your ballot. Hope the previous person hasn't stolen the marker. Have privacy only at two of the six tables. Connect the lines for each candidate or issue you want to vote for. You also have the option of connecting one line to vote for all candidates in a given political party instead of making 15 lines. Flip the ballot over and try to remember what all the issues were about and how you wanted to vote based on a three line blurb.

6. Stand in another line for the two scanners at the exit. Dodge the person with the "I Voted" stickers from putting it directly on your chest.

7. Go off-roading trying to exit since you've been blocked in and the only open area is grass, gully and potholes.

Not particularly fun.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Betelnut on November 09, 2012, 09:28:55 AM
Are polls manned by volunteers?  I was paid when I was a poll worker in Texas many years ago.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: WillyNilly on November 09, 2012, 09:31:29 AM
2. As stated before, poling places to rely on volunteers, which means that due to staffing, sometime there are only a few "voting booths" open.

Actually this prompted me to look it up, since you are the second one to say that in this thread and I know they aren't always volunteers (my state pays).  And it turns out they are all paid.  Poll workers are not volunteers (well they can choose to be but default is they are paid):
http://gab.wi.gov/elections-voting/voters/become-a-poll-worker

Quote
Are poll workers (election inspectors) compensated?

Yes, poll workers are compensated for working at polling places at a rate determined by the appropriate municipal governing body, and, in some municipalities, are also compensated for attending any required training sessions.  Poll workers may also choose to volunteer their services by filing a written declination of compensation with the municipal clerk

http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/pollworker.htm
Quote
Earn extra money (amount varies by county)

http://act.credoaction.com/pollworkers/faq.html
Quote
What's a pollworker?

Pollworkers are citizens who sign up for a one-day paid job with their county elections officials, and are hired and trained to help out from early in the morning on Election Day, through the close of polls that evening.

http://www.stlouisco.com/YourGovernment/Elections/PollWorkers
Quote
    Q: How much will I be paid as a Poll Worker?
A: Pay varies based on your assigned position. Pay ranges from $100 to $130.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: portiafimbriata on November 09, 2012, 09:32:15 AM
The volunteers in our voting district are almost all elderly retirees, and yes, they do tend to move rather slow; that was only part of the problem though. Our holdup seemed to be at least partially due to not having enough cardboard "sleeves" to go around - seven sleeves available for the thousands of voters in our district; voting without a sleeve was not an option either.

I had to leave the voting line because I would have been late for work. I had been waiting for half an hour and the line did.not.move. I returned after work and got through the line in about an hour.

I do think that (1) voting SHOULD be compulsory and (2) it should necessarily be a smoother process than it currently is.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Cat-Fu on November 09, 2012, 09:37:02 AM
It took me about 15 minutes to vote in my city, despite the fact that the ballot was like a million pages long (ok, three, but they were big pages). It probably helped that I was prepared and knew exactly what I was voting for each thing already, but there were people who had been in their booths when I came in still trying to figure out what to vote for when I left. There was a bit of delay as the fellow in line in front of me was blind and the poll workers weren't really certain what to do with him. (There was a machine for him to use, so I'm not sure why they were so baffled.)

I think a lot of times the issue is that there simply aren't enough poll workers and polling places, though. (Poll workers are also paid in MA.)
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Luci on November 09, 2012, 09:47:32 AM
All of my voting life, since 1968, I never had to wait for more than 4 other people in front of me. That is in a city of 1,000,000 and now a city of 7,000, in the USA.

I wonder about your question, too, often.

The second Tuesday after the first Monday of Nov * as Election Day as in Article II of the Constitution. Most work places make allowances for voting day, and polls in most places are open 6AM-7AM, and now we have early voting easier to do, so just about everyone is accomodated.

*That merely means that Nov 1 can never be Election Day.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Decimus on November 09, 2012, 10:23:42 AM
It took me 40 minutes or so to vote (in NYC).  The room was a school cafeteria and they'd left the tables in situ instead of folding them up, which reduced the amount of room.  The sign-in line took 5-10 minutes per person, in part because they had to stop and explain the voting procedure to every-single-person as they approached and in part because they didn't seem very capable (the woman looked past my name on the page twice until I pointed it out, upside down from my point of view).  Then I had to go to a second line to fill out the ballot, which too another 5 minutes of waiting, and found someone had swiped all the pens the workers insisted were there (and which were supposed to be chained to the podiums).  I had to use my own pen.  Then I had to go to the scanner line -- which meant walking ACROSS the line for the sign-in.  That line wasn't too long.  But there were 3 machines for 4 or 5 districts, and one was broken, and a second was acting up.  And people kept confusing the scanner line for one of the district sign-in lines because they were next to each other. 

It was an unholy mess, to be sure.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Sophia on November 09, 2012, 10:48:12 AM
All of my voting life, since 1968, I never had to wait for more than 4 other people in front of me. That is in a city of 1,000,000 and now a city of 7,000, in the USA.

I wonder about your question, too, often.

The second Tuesday after the first Monday of Nov * as Election Day as in Article II of the Constitution. Most work places make allowances for voting day, and polls in most places are open 6AM-7AM, and now we have early voting easier to do, so just about everyone is accomodated.

*That merely means that Nov 1 can never be Election Day.


I've often wondered too.  Well, not really wondered, after all it is government efficiency in action.  I feel thankful that I live someplace where the local government is less stupid. 

The last primary I had to wait in a long line and it really annoyed me.  I knew what had happened.  In the previous presidential primary, a substantial number of people were voting in the non-dominant parties primary.  Not me, but a really large percentage.  It caused the line for the non-dominant parties primary to be very very long, and the other to be empty.  For the primary this year, they had switched a majority of the voting machines over to the non-dominant party, and people voting in the dominant party had a really long line.  Government!
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: #borecore on November 09, 2012, 10:50:03 AM
We had no wait voting two Saturdays before the election in Texas. It was pretty crowded at the mall polling station, but most people were going straight to the next free machine.

We've used these machines since at least 2004 in my city, so most people are familiar with them. You use a dial turned clockwise to move down the ballot (counterclockwise to go back up) and a button to select. It's pretty easy, but they also have workers available to show you how. They are little upright kiosks, no curtains, and sadly no paper trail.

Even with a change of address, it didn't take me terribly long, less than 10 minutes, because I read up on the 18 county/city propositions in advance. BF took several minutes longer. That is why I always vote early.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 09, 2012, 11:03:20 AM
The volunteers in our voting district are almost all elderly retirees, and yes, they do tend to move rather slow; that was only part of the problem though. Our holdup seemed to be at least partially due to not having enough cardboard "sleeves" to go around - seven sleeves available for the thousands of voters in our district; voting without a sleeve was not an option either.

I had to leave the voting line because I would have been late for work. I had been waiting for half an hour and the line did.not.move. I returned after work and got through the line in about an hour.

I do think that (1) voting SHOULD be compulsory and (2) it should necessarily be a smoother process than it currently is.

What is a cardboard sleeve?

I voted early and only had to wait around 20 minutes around 4pm at a place close to our house. 

I've always wondered why some polling places have such long lines.  Didn't know if it was because they had a much higher turn out for their precint then expected, didn't have enough workers, or weren't able to secure enough voting booths.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: portiafimbriata on November 09, 2012, 11:29:51 AM
I think it's also called a ballot secrecy sleeve - hides your ballot choices so others can't see them. I don't know if every district uses them or not, but my district is adamant that they be used.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Redneck Gravy on November 09, 2012, 11:35:26 AM
I voted early, I also went three times before I voted because of the long lines - so four trips to get to vote.  This is mostly because of my own impatience. 

I am in west Texas (Midland) and we vote with easy to operate touch screen tablets.  The ballot was not that long and there were only two amendments on the local issues.  It actually takes about 5 minutes to select, review and push CAST BALLOT to be finished. 

I think we just had sheer numbers turn out to vote this time.  I also went to the main early voting site, there were three others that did very little activity and I could have gone to any of those and probably voted on the first try.

My daughter voted on Tuesday and she said there were no lines at the church for our precinct, but she voted around 10:30 in the morning also. 

Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 09, 2012, 11:36:37 AM
I think it's also called a ballot secrecy sleeve - hides your ballot choices so others can't see them. I don't know if every district uses them or not, but my district is adamant that they be used.

Thanks, we don't use any type of manual ballots anymore.  Only voting machines.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Kaypeep on November 09, 2012, 11:45:49 AM

I think the long lines are exceptions rather than the norm, but the media likes to focus on anything dramatic so you see more about the polls that have long wait times when 99 out of 100 of the poll centers operate just fine.  I'm from NYC and had no issues.

In Florida, however, there were some areas that had wait times as long as 4 to 7 hours, according to the news.  The reason for this vary, but seem to be a cumulative affect of various issues:

- Not enough scanners to process the ballots, resulting in a backlog of people waiting to cast ballots.
- 10 page ballots because the residents in those areas were voting on referendums, so they were taking longer to read all the descriptions of the referendums.
- Due to long lines, many residents decided to complete absentee ballots instead, so those have to be processed differently and take longer to do manually.
- some voting centers ran out of ballots (they are numbered, to prevent fraud, so it's not easy to just use something else.)
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: HorseFreak on November 09, 2012, 12:18:42 PM
I think it's also called a ballot secrecy sleeve - hides your ballot choices so others can't see them. I don't know if every district uses them or not, but my district is adamant that they be used.

I think my area was supposed to have sleeves judging by how they were referenced on the instruction signs, but I never actually saw one. Of course we didn't even have privacy dividers and it felt like a high school cafeteria so that might be asking a lot.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: TXJess on November 09, 2012, 01:01:21 PM
I live in Texas north of Houston. I early voted on a Saturday (10/27), and even though the parking lot was pretty full and there seemed to be a lot of people walking in with me, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.

We used the electronic voting machines that you use a scroll wheel to select your choices. As I was walking in, a gentleman told me to have my ID ready and turn any electronics off. Then a lady swiped my ID, had me confirm my name, birthdate, and address on a little screen, and then a worker next to her printed out a little receipt with a number on it for me to enter into the voting machine. Since I had already gone though all the candidates on my ballot and made my decisions beforehand, it didn't take me very long to vote. The room was set up with probably 50 booths, 5 rows of 10. I'm not sure what this location looked like on election day, but I doubt the lines were very long since they seemed to be pretty efficient.

This was my second time voting. The first time I was in a different county and polling location, but my experience was pretty similar. I early voted the Saturday before, and the wait was probably 10-20 minutes and everything moved pretty smoothly. I'm definitely going to stick to early voting unless I absolutely can't get around to it! I hate lines!
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Cat-Fu on November 09, 2012, 01:17:06 PM
We had the secrecy sleeves at my voting place this year and I had to laugh because they weren't quite long enough to actually hide the portion regarding presidential votes. It was very pointless. :P
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 09, 2012, 01:24:40 PM
Oh, I didn't mention the parking - another frustration  >:(  My voting place was at a church in a kind of weird mixed section of town - end result is there wasn't really any close parking spaces other than the church lot itself.  (It was mostly surrounded by apartment buildings with strict "DO NOT PARK HERE" lots.)  The church lot wasn't that big to begin with, and there were several political activists yelling and handing out things.  Some were helpful - helping people find places to park - but there was a contingent from the party opposite the majority in my district whose purpose there seemed to be just to take up parking spots and to discourage people from voting  >:(  It took a good ~10 minutes of circling the lot before I found an empty spot.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Layla Miller on November 09, 2012, 01:26:37 PM
There was only one person ahead of me when I voted, but I went at about 1:00 PM and I live in a very rural town at the moment (approx. 300 people), so that probably has something to do with it.  When I lived in a larger city during the 2008 election, I did have a long line, although I think it was less than half an hour.

I voted early, I also went three times....

I swear, I need to stop skimming posts.  I did a double take before I finished reading this post.  ;D
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: trailgrrl on November 09, 2012, 01:57:57 PM
Washington State votes entirely by mail and it's the best thing ever!!.  Our ballots were mailed out about two weeks prior to election along with the voter pamphlet.  You can sit with your ballot, pamphlet and a cuppa joe in your own kitchen and puzzle out the candidates, initiatives and referendums as long as you need.  Then you either slap a stamp on it and mail it in or drop  in a drop box at your local public library.   The county auditor websites have a function whereby you can check to see if it was received.  It must be postmarked by election day to be counted

I mailed mine and my husbands ballots on 10/23, mailed my son's to him along with the voter guide (he is still in school for the Army and won't hit his duty station for  at least another month, he'll do his change of address then, but still officially a resident of this state)   

The ballot is mailed with two envelopes.  The  completed ballot itself is inserted into a "secrecy" envelope that has no identifying information  and sealed.   The first envelope is then inserted into a slightly larger colored envelope with your identifying information and signature on the back.

Although ballots are collected state law does not allow them to be counted prior to election day. 

We've been doing absentee balloting for years but going entirely vote by mail is fairly new.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: camlan on November 09, 2012, 04:51:03 PM


I mailed mine and my husbands ballots on 10/23, mailed my son's to him along with the voter guide (he is still in school for the Army and won't hit his duty station for  at least another month, he'll do his change of address then, but still officially a resident of this state)   


Veering off topic for a bit. . . trailgrrl, your son will not have to change his voter registration if he doesn't want to. Check the laws in your state, but most states allow military personnel to keep their residency in their home state, as long as there is an address that they can call "home." It's completely up to your son, but if he wants to stay a registered voter in your state, he most likely can. (If you are willing to let him use your address.) Or he can register where he lives. Completely up to him. It can help to have a "permanent" address for things like voter registration and driver's licenses, especially if he is sent overseas.

My brother's been in the service for 30 years. He hasn't lived in this state for that entire time. Yet he is legally registered to vote here, and uses my other brother's address to do so.

Back to the original topic now.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Betelnut on November 09, 2012, 05:21:52 PM
Just read in the Washington Post that a lot of districts/polling places had their machines "redistributed" to other districts based on political reasons so some areas didn't have as many voting machines as they needed.  This was reported in an opinion piece so I am hoping that it is wrong.  I would hate to think that there is some sort of true wide-scale issues.  Even if I despise a person's politics, I would not want to stop him/her from voting.  That goes against everything that "we" are supposed to believe in.  Truly. 
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: trailgrrl on November 09, 2012, 05:24:34 PM


I mailed mine and my husbands ballots on 10/23, mailed my son's to him along with the voter guide (he is still in school for the Army and won't hit his duty station for  at least another month, he'll do his change of address then, but still officially a resident of this state)   


Veering off topic for a bit. . . trailgrrl, your son will not have to change his voter registration if he doesn't want to. Check the laws in your state, but most states allow military personnel to keep their residency in their home state, as long as there is an address that they can call "home." It's completely up to your son, but if he wants to stay a registered voter in your state, he most likely can. (If you are willing to let him use your address.) Or he can register where he lives. Completely up to him. It can help to have a "permanent" address for things like voter registration and driver's licenses, especially if he is sent overseas.

My brother's been in the service for 30 years. He hasn't lived in this state for that entire time. Yet he is legally registered to vote here, and uses my other brother's address to do so.

Back to the original topic now.

Oh sorry if I was unclear.  Yes, he knows that he won't have to change his residency,  right now we forward him his mail as he will have one more school before he gets to his  Post and has a address that will last longer than 2-3 months.  Once he has a address that is stable he can contact the auditor with and address change and have them mail his ballot directly, but he will remain a citizen of this State regardless of where he is posted unless he decides to change.

Thanks for the heads up  :)
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: melbelle39 on November 09, 2012, 06:34:32 PM
OP here

Thanks for the insight..

I should add that poll staff are paid here - and quite well.  I used to do it as a student and because it was a weekend you'd get about $25 an hour (probably more now) and given its a long day its easy to make a couple of hundred dollars in one day - so plenty of people competing for those jobs.

We usually have at least two ballot papers: lower house (which is fairly straight forward, maybe 6 options if you are lucky) and senate which is usually about 60 names, but you don't have to number them all - though its hilarious watching people take a piece of paper about a metre long into a tiny voting booth

We don't vote on law changes, unless its a direct change to the consitution (referendum) and they are no very common - last one was over a decade ago.

I think the US really needs to look at introducing sausage sizzles at polling places - they are a cornerstone to the electoral process here - so much so that my husband made us walk to another polling place last election (only a few hundred metres) because the one closest to us didnt have one.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: kherbert05 on November 09, 2012, 06:51:08 PM
A couple of reasons for the problems
Sandy
Bigger turn outs in the last couple of elections. The last mid-term election I stood in line from 4:30 till I think 8 pm before I got to vote. People started to get worried about 6 because of the polls closing at 7. The workers let us know as long as we were in line -even a line wrapped around the building we got to vote. When I left the end of the line was were I had gotten into line. They were having trouble because of turning people away that arrive after 7.

This year a bunch of voter ID laws were passed, then struck down as unconstitutional This caused a bunch of confusion. When I was leaving school on Tuesday - two different people were arguing with the poll judges about if they could vote. One registered 2 weeks ago - the other last Friday. The deadline to register is 30 days before the election. If you turn 18 between the deadline and the election you can register and vote.


Then there was my former co-worker who in June ranted and raved on facebook that the authorities were keeping her 17 yo son from registering to vote because he was going to register X party.

The state is an X party state. Has been for well over 40 years.

We don't register as X or Y in this state. You register, when you vote in X or Y primary then you are restricted to that party's run offs for the rest of the year. In January everything is reset to blank.

Her son was 17 and didn't turn 18 until 2 weeks after the primary. To this day she is angry that they denied him his right to vote. (She thinks because he was able to vote in the general election he was supposed to be able to vote in the primaries even though he wasn't yet 18)

I think everyone over 18 should vote, but I dislike the idea of requiring it.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: AngelicGamer on November 09, 2012, 07:03:24 PM
I know that a lot of people (in political positions) are saying that we need to fix the fact that we have long lines.  I'm all for the mailing in your vote that Washington State has.  That sounds lovely! 

For me, my family went to early vote.  We had a longer wait because my grandmother (who is 94) wanted to vote but would need help with the touch screen / reading the screen.  So I voted really quick - I already knew which was I was going to vote with the Constitutional amendment of the 3/5ths thing and the judges - and then came over to help my grandmother.  That was a longer wait because they had to print off a form that they didn't have handy and it took a while.  So it took us a hour to vote because of that. 
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Ereine on November 09, 2012, 10:14:17 PM
That does sound a lot more complicated than what we do here in Finland and doesn't surprise me that much that it take much longer. Our elections are always on a Sunday (so most people don't work) and we have one election at a time and as unfortunately referendums are very uncommon, all we do is write one number on a piece of paper (there's a list of all the candidates and their numbers in the booth). That doesn't take long. I voted the last time a few weeks ago in local elections and the whole thing took about five minutes.

We don't have to register to vote here, everyone over 18 is sent the voting information (including prisoners). You do have to show an ID but you can get a temporary one for free. Poll workers get paid and often are members of a party (and all the parties are represented). Polls close at eight and final results are in at maybe before midnight, they have to count them by hand.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: kareng57 on November 09, 2012, 10:16:23 PM
In Canada - I originally figured it was less complicated but, upon reflection, figured that it could seem more complicated...

In a nutshell, Federal, Provincial and Municipal elections are all conducted separately.  In my province, municipal elections are automatic, every three years, in the month of November.  Federal and Provincial elections happen whenever the provincial Premier or federal Prime Minister approach the Lieutenant-Governor/Governor-General to order a new government.  Quite often this happens when a minority-government is defeated (not possible in most of the US, I know) or simply when he/she wants a new mandate. But even when there's a majority government, they can't govern indefinitely without a new mandate.  There's generally a time limit - sometimes a provincial premier dictates when this will be; for example, in my province we go to the provincial-polls next year no matter what.

So overall, we Canadians can smile about the US voters having to elect President/Congressman/Senator/Governor/State
Senator/State Representative/Mayor/DA/Sherrif in one fell-swoop.  But on the other hand, it would not be unheard-of for Canadians to have to elect most of these same people during three separate elections in a single year, depending on their location. It would just depend on when elections were called.  (FYI - judges and Crown Prosecutors are not elected positions in Canada).  And in my most recent experience - municipal elections had the automatic vote-counters, and federal/provincial elections still had the old-fashioned hand-counted ballots.

ETA:  provincial or federal elections are usually on a Monday or a Tuesday; my guess is that there will be more weekdays available if a recount is ordered.  And poll employees are generally fairly well-paid.  I used to do it during the years that I was a SAHM and late Dh had the day off and could look after the kids.  Years later, when he was retired but I wasn't, he would do the Advance Poll for several days.  Municipal elections are always on Saturdays, though, it seems.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 09, 2012, 11:44:56 PM
Just in case anyone is interested, here was our local ballot. (http://media.al.com/live/other/madison-2012-sample.pdf)  Each polling station would have a slightly different ballot - only one of the center column, depending on which of the districts in the city you live in - but there were several unopposed people and several opposed races.  Alabama also has the world's stupidest constitution, and the longest (or so I'm told) - state law requires every little legal tweak to be written as an amendment to the constitution and voted on instead of just decreed, so it has 850+ amendments and every election brings several more.  As a result, we get wonderful things like

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of
Alabama of 1901, effective January 1, 2014, to
amend Section 247 relating to the authority of
the Legislature concerning banks and banking,
to repeal various other provisions of Article XIII
concerning banks and banking; and to repeal
Amendment 154 to the Constitution of Alabama
of 1901, now appearing as Section 255.01 of the
Official Recompilation of the Constitution of
Alabama of 1901, as amended, subject to the
contingency that a new Article XII of the state
constitution is adopted that repeals existing
Section 232 of the state constitution, and subject
to the contingency that Sections 10A-2-15.01
and 10A-2-15.02, Code of Alabama 1975, are
repealed. (Proposed by Act No. 2012-276)


which can take a while to wade through :-)

ETA: the Wikipedia article about the Alabama constitution is interesting reading.  Apparently we have an amendment to tell us how to annex foreign territory, one to discourage dueling, another prohibiting politicians from getting free railroad tickets, and one that says "Oops, sorry, this one didn't pass after all, so ignore it."  There are also several which are invalidated by federal law, including one that bans "idiots and insane persons," people who married inter-racially, and homosexual men from voting.  One of the ones we just voted on this year (and which failed to pass) would have removed "separate but equal" schooling for white and black children  :-\
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: kckgirl on November 10, 2012, 06:32:58 AM
I live in Maryland and voted early on October 27. The first time we drove through the parking lot but left because the line  was out the door and down the sidewalk, and I had my elderly mother with me who couldn't stand there for such a long time. We went back around 5 p.m. and walked right in.


At our polling place, you give your name, they look it up on an Ipad type device, confirm your address and birth date (but didn't ask for ID), printed out a form that I signed, and gave me a card (like the smart card I use to log on to my computer at work). You then go to the machines, hand the paper you signed to the poll worker who puts it in a large envelope attached to the outside of the privacy dividers, and put the card in a slot on the machine. The ballot comes up on a touch screen. You touch the box next to your selection, and when you've finished, you touch a box to confirm your votes and remove the card. At that point the screen goes blank to wait for the next voter.


This year, besides the national offices, we had quite a few offices to vote on in my county, along with several questions. If I don't care one way or another about a question, I don't vote on it (such as how they handle something in another county...can't figure out why we have to vote statewide for an issue in only one county). I guess the entire process took about 5-7 minutes since I had received a sample ballot in the mail and had already decided on all the questions in advance.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Just Lori on November 10, 2012, 08:59:54 AM
We live in Indiana, and many people I know faced hour long waits or more.  We use machines here, and I'm told it's not cost-effective to buy more machines, when we only see large turnouts for the "big" elections, like the presidential election.

Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Sedorna on November 10, 2012, 10:06:38 AM
I stood in line for two hours to vote. Apparently, the reason was because there weren't enough sign-in machines. We had about ten or so actual voting booths, but only two sign in machines. To vote, you went up to the person manning the machine and told her your name, address, and maybe showed your i.d. (I didn't need to) Then you got your voter's card and could go to the actual voting booths. So there were some times when the line was snaking all the way down the hall but only a couple actual booths were in use.

And it gets crazier. I voted in the local elementary school, which has voting booths set up in two places, the cafeteria and the gym. Each room was for residents of different neighborhoods, which I'll call Pirate Neighborhood and Ninja Neighborhood. If you lived in the Pirate Neighborhood, you voted in the cafeteria. If you lived in the Ninja Neighborhood, you voted in the gym. For some reason, even though the set-up was exactly the same, with the same number of machines and people manning it, the Pirates had a huge line, and there was not a single wait for the Ninjas.* I was a Pirate, and I wish wish we had been allowed to vote in the gym as well. Or maybe give a few more machines to us Pirates. Lucky Ninjas, not having to wait.  :P

*I have no idea why there was no line for the Ninjas. I mean, the Pirate Neighborhood consists mostly of single-family houses, whereas the Ninjas live primarily in either row-houses or apartments. Heck, you'd think there'd be more Ninjas voting.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: lady_disdain on November 10, 2012, 12:19:29 PM
Before the late 90's, we also had terrible lines at polling stations, mainly because of hand written ballots and long lists of candidates to be consulted, depending on the election (presidential and senate are short, local representatives can be amazingly long). The Electoral Justice (who oversees all aspects of the election process) has done wonders and for the last 2 decades, I have never taken more than 5 minutes.

Voting is mandatory and elections are always held on Sundays. Employers must allow any employees working on election day appropriate time for voting (if I am not mistaken, it is considered 4 hours, so most stores either alternate shifts or only open in the afternoon). Staffing the polling stations is considered a civic duty, similar to jury duty. So, each year, there is a chance you will be called to serve (very slim, though). You get a stipend and 2 days off work if you work for any public or private company (tough luck if you are self employed).

All voting is done on voting machines. Since there are usually 3 or 4 races per election, the machine will present each one separately and the voter uses a numerical keypad to identify the candidate or to void the vote for that race. Each party has a number (55, 12, etc) and each candidate (other than presidential) has a number that begins with the party number such as 55412. The machine then shows a screen with the candidate's photo, name and party, so the voter can confirm the choice. Done.

"Cheat sheets" are widely distributed before the elections, with all the races and spaces for the voters to write in the number of the candidate they wish to vote for, so they can crib at the machine. If necessary, there is also a list of all candidates besides each machine.

Elections results are usually known in a few hours after the election ends.

Also, the voting software is thoroughly inspected by experts from all political parties. If the manufacturer does not wish to make the software available for inspection, he is not allowed to participate in the process.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: HorseFreak on November 10, 2012, 12:37:09 PM
Just in case anyone is interested, here was our local ballot. (http://media.al.com/live/other/madison-2012-sample.pdf)  Each polling station would have a slightly different ballot - only one of the center column, depending on which of the districts in the city you live in - but there were several unopposed people and several opposed races.  Alabama also has the world's stupidest constitution, and the longest (or so I'm told) - state law requires every little legal tweak to be written as an amendment to the constitution and voted on instead of just decreed, so it has 850+ amendments and every election brings several more.  As a result, we get wonderful things like

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of
Alabama of 1901, effective January 1, 2014, to
amend Section 247 relating to the authority of
the Legislature concerning banks and banking,
to repeal various other provisions of Article XIII
concerning banks and banking; and to repeal
Amendment 154 to the Constitution of Alabama
of 1901, now appearing as Section 255.01 of the
Official Recompilation of the Constitution of
Alabama of 1901, as amended, subject to the
contingency that a new Article XII of the state
constitution is adopted that repeals existing
Section 232 of the state constitution, and subject
to the contingency that Sections 10A-2-15.01
and 10A-2-15.02, Code of Alabama 1975, are
repealed. (Proposed by Act No. 2012-276)


which can take a while to wade through :-)

ETA: the Wikipedia article about the Alabama constitution is interesting reading.  Apparently we have an amendment to tell us how to annex foreign territory, one to discourage dueling, another prohibiting politicians from getting free railroad tickets, and one that says "Oops, sorry, this one didn't pass after all, so ignore it."  There are also several which are invalidated by federal law, including one that bans "idiots and insane persons," people who married inter-racially, and homosexual men from voting.  One of the ones we just voted on this year (and which failed to pass) would have removed "separate but equal" schooling for white and black children  :-\

I don't want to get political, but the "separate but equal" amendment was more complicated than that due to the language used and could be interpreted to defund public school. I honestly don't have a dog in that fight, but people in Alabama aren't as awful as the simplified version makes it sound.

Title: Re: Voting
Post by: kherbert05 on November 10, 2012, 11:31:00 PM
In Canada - I originally figured it was less complicated but, upon reflection, figured that it could seem more complicated...

In a nutshell, Federal, Provincial and Municipal elections are all conducted separately.  In my province, municipal elections are automatic, every three years, in the month of November.  Federal and Provincial elections happen whenever the provincial Premier or federal Prime Minister approach the Lieutenant-Governor/Governor-General to order a new government.  Quite often this happens when a minority-government is defeated (not possible in most of the US, I know) or simply when he/she wants a new mandate. But even when there's a majority government, they can't govern indefinitely without a new mandate.  There's generally a time limit - sometimes a provincial premier dictates when this will be; for example, in my province we go to the provincial-polls next year no matter what.

So overall, we Canadians can smile about the US voters having to elect President/Congressman/Senator/Governor/State
Senator/State Representative/Mayor/DA/Sherrif in one fell-swoop.  But on the other hand, it would not be unheard-of for Canadians to have to elect most of these same people during three separate elections in a single year, depending on their location. It would just depend on when elections were called.  (FYI - judges and Crown Prosecutors are not elected positions in Canada).  And in my most recent experience - municipal elections had the automatic vote-counters, and federal/provincial elections still had the old-fashioned hand-counted ballots.

ETA:  provincial or federal elections are usually on a Monday or a Tuesday; my guess is that there will be more weekdays available if a recount is ordered.  And poll employees are generally fairly well-paid.  I used to do it during the years that I was a SAHM and late Dh had the day off and could look after the kids.  Years later, when he was retired but I wasn't, he would do the Advance Poll for several days.  Municipal elections are always on Saturdays, though, it seems.
In the US Federal Judges are appointed for life. State judges depends on the state. We elect judges in Texas.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: kareng57 on November 10, 2012, 11:43:29 PM
In Canada - I originally figured it was less complicated but, upon reflection, figured that it could seem more complicated...

In a nutshell, Federal, Provincial and Municipal elections are all conducted separately.  In my province, municipal elections are automatic, every three years, in the month of November.  Federal and Provincial elections happen whenever the provincial Premier or federal Prime Minister approach the Lieutenant-Governor/Governor-General to order a new government.  Quite often this happens when a minority-government is defeated (not possible in most of the US, I know) or simply when he/she wants a new mandate. But even when there's a majority government, they can't govern indefinitely without a new mandate.  There's generally a time limit - sometimes a provincial premier dictates when this will be; for example, in my province we go to the provincial-polls next year no matter what.

So overall, we Canadians can smile about the US voters having to elect President/Congressman/Senator/Governor/State
Senator/State Representative/Mayor/DA/Sherrif in one fell-swoop.  But on the other hand, it would not be unheard-of for Canadians to have to elect most of these same people during three separate elections in a single year, depending on their location. It would just depend on when elections were called.  (FYI - judges and Crown Prosecutors are not elected positions in Canada).  And in my most recent experience - municipal elections had the automatic vote-counters, and federal/provincial elections still had the old-fashioned hand-counted ballots.

ETA:  provincial or federal elections are usually on a Monday or a Tuesday; my guess is that there will be more weekdays available if a recount is ordered.  And poll employees are generally fairly well-paid.  I used to do it during the years that I was a SAHM and late Dh had the day off and could look after the kids.  Years later, when he was retired but I wasn't, he would do the Advance Poll for several days.  Municipal elections are always on Saturdays, though, it seems.
In the US Federal Judges are appointed for life. State judges depends on the state. We elect judges in Texas.


Yes, I do understand that that officials who are elected/appointed in the US differ greatly by state/county.  No argument there, at all.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Ereine on November 11, 2012, 01:26:31 AM
We only elect the president, members of the parliament (for both Finnish and EU parliaments) and local councillors, it's very simple. Judges and mayors are civil servants as are many other offices (I think that it's seen as very important that judges have nothing to do with politics), those that aren't are decided by the municipal council (usually in relation to their number of councillors so the party with the most councillors will have the most power over different boards).   
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: emwithme on November 11, 2012, 06:01:22 AM
Can someone from the US (or other places that have it), explain "write in" candidates for me.  As a Brit, I can only put my "X" in the box for the candidate of my choice.  If I make a mark OTHER than the accepted*cross, such as write on the paper, then my ballot is classed as "spoiled" and is void.  It used to be that spoiled ballots were read out after the announcement of the winner and how many votes each candidate got, but that has changed recently.


*marks other than a standard X are checked by hand - if it's a "tick" (and quite clearly a positive vote for one candidate), then I believe that is accepted.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: JoW on November 11, 2012, 07:16:09 AM
Can someone from the US (or other places that have it), explain "write in" candidates for me......
Its exactly what it sounds like.  If you don't like any of the people on the ballot you can write in another name and vote for them.  If you write an imaginary person like Mickey Mouse or Superman your vote won't count.  The same goes if you write in someone who isn't eligible - a vote for Hillary Clinton to be on the Omaha, Nebraska, school board. 

There are even write-in campaigns usually in small, local elections where only one person files to get on the ballot, then makes some blunder and someone else tries to keep them out of office.  The've even been known to win. 

I use a paper ballot that is read by machine - fill in the dot beside your candidate's name.  All votes for write-in candidates are kicked-out by the machine that reads the ballots and have to be read and counted by hand. 


ETA
The write-in candidate has to tell the election commission that they are willing to take the office.  I don't know the exact procedure, but I know it exists. 
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Gwywnnydd on November 11, 2012, 11:47:30 AM
Can someone from the US (or other places that have it), explain "write in" candidates for me.  As a Brit, I can only put my "X" in the box for the candidate of my choice.  If I make a mark OTHER than the accepted*cross, such as write on the paper, then my ballot is classed as "spoiled" and is void.  It used to be that spoiled ballots were read out after the announcement of the winner and how many votes each candidate got, but that has changed recently.


*marks other than a standard X are checked by hand - if it's a "tick" (and quite clearly a positive vote for one candidate), then I believe that is accepted.

As JoW said, you literally write in a name. For example, on my ballot this year, for Governor of the state, I had the option of selecting Candidate A, Candidate B, or "Other", which was a tick box next to an underlined blank space. If I wanted to write in another candidate, I could.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 11, 2012, 11:55:59 AM
Charles Darwin, for example, got 4000 write-in votes for this House of Representatives seat. (http://now.msn.com/charles-darwin-received-4000-write-in-votes-in-georgia-election)  The actual candidate got quite a few more, but (according to a few news articles) the other top contenders were "Anybody else" and "Anybody but [politician who was running unopposed]."
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: kckgirl on November 11, 2012, 06:17:06 PM
I know someone who won a political office that he didn't seek. He was a former member of the city council and I guess his constituents wanted him back.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: misha412 on November 11, 2012, 10:05:44 PM
Western North Carolina here.

I tried to vote early the Saturday before the election (the 3rd). In my county, they had four early voting locations. The one closest to me had a line snaking around the building, and it was not moving very fast. I estimated we would be there at least 2-3 hours. My fiance and I decided to wait until Election day.

Election Day (the 6th), we decided to hit the polls about 9:30. That would be after the initial before work crowd and well before the after work crowd. (We both work from home). We were in and out in 10 minutes. There were a healthy number of people voting, but we had plenty of voting machines, alert volunteers, and a voting place with plenty of parking.

We walked up to the table where I had one person ahead of me. They took my name, looked it up on a laptop computer, printed off a sheet that I signed saying I voted. I took that paper to another line to wait for an open voting machine. There was one open and the volunteer set it up for me and I voted. Three page ballot, took me about 5 minutes to walk through (I had reviewed everything before hand). I verified everything and then hit the "Vote" button. That triggers an internal printer that I could see, printing out my vote and providing a unique code on it. My fiance was behind me and he took a few minutes longer because he had to wait for a voting machine.

I think one of the biggest challenges in US elections is that state and local elections are not run consistently. As you can see from the stories from different states around the country, each state has its own laws/regulations/ways of doing things. Sometimes, in each state, each county has their own ways. That makes some places worse than others for wait times, lines, and potential problems.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: GwenB on November 12, 2012, 12:02:35 PM
It is a numbers issue.  The average precinct has 1100 voters.   So, let’s say every voter took 10 minutes to vote and that there are 20 voting machines – if everyone just showed up in a steady stream all day that would be just over 9 hours to get everyone to vote (1100people*10minutes/20machines)  leaving 3 to 4 extra hours in the voting day (depending on the voting hours).  However, since we vote on a week day, the crowds are heavily skewed to early morning and late afternoon/evening – I wouldn’t be surprised if half or more of all voters vote before 10am or after 4pm.  Add to that, slow workers, issues with equipment, confusion about rules and things can snowball into long waits.  Plus, as some people have mentioned, multiple precincts are often voting at the same location, so that just adds to the crowd (though everywhere I’ve voted, each precinct has their own machines – not sure if that is the same everyplace)

ETA: I was just thinking about this more - I didn't take into account that while a precinct may have an average of 1100 voters I don't think anywhere gets 100% turnout, so that would change things...  I still think a lot of it is how everyone wants to vote either before or after work and it it just too many people in a short time.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: WillyNilly on November 12, 2012, 12:54:51 PM
1100 voters per precinct (do you mean district)?  How do you figure that?  My apartment building alone probably has a 400 voters in it. My voting district is certainly more then just 3 apartment buildings!

And then add to that 20 voting machines?  We had 16 districts (not sure how many people per district) and 5 scanners for all to share.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Cat-Fu on November 12, 2012, 01:26:20 PM
WillyNilly, 1100 is the average number of registered voters in each precinct nationally. The actual numbers vary. (Apparently the largest is DC, which has 2,704 voters per precinct.)
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: GwenB on November 12, 2012, 01:28:09 PM
I found it in a Wikipedia article, so not vouching for the accuracy  ;)
The article is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precinct

“Each precinct has a specific location where its residents go to vote. Sometimes several precincts will use the same polling station. A 2004 survey by the United States Election Assistance Commission reported an average precinct size in the United States of approximately 1,100 registered voters. Kansas had the smallest average precinct size with 437 voters per precinct, while the District of Columbia had the largest average size at 2,704 voters per precinct.”

It seems like it could be accurate – my city has 24 precincts and an over 18 population of around 47,000, so that would be right around 1960 people per precinct.

And the 20 machines was just a wild guess, I've only ever voted on the scanable paper sheets and I was trying to remember how many little booths they had set up for us last week - 20 seemed about right.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Twik on November 12, 2012, 01:45:48 PM
I think one issue is the number of things Americans vote on. In a Canadian federal election, we simply get a piece of paper with the names of candidates X, Y and Z. Put an x beside the one you want, pop it into the box, you're done. No way does that take 10 minutes, unless you're chronically indecisive.

I've never had to vote on referendum-type "proposition" questions, like "should our province ban muumuus in public?" That would slow you down, particularly if there are multiple ones.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Cat-Fu on November 12, 2012, 01:50:25 PM
I just did a little looking into how things are organized in Boston, and it looks like we have 22 wards in Boston, and each ward has 5 to 23 precincts within it. So I'm assuming a precinct is a pretty small area, generally. Some of the precints in my ward are just a couple of streets (which are heavily populated).
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: dawbs on November 12, 2012, 01:57:22 PM
The fact that each state has different rules is one of the reasons it takes longer.
The fact that each county/precinct/etc in each state has it's own version of ballots, etc is also a contributing factor.
(example, my state allows 'no reason' absentee--I just have to state I'll be unable to go on X day and I can mail it in.  But we do not allow any sort of early voting)

I voted absentee (not my preference, there have been issues in the past on how these are counted--but I didn't want to take time off work.  I could get the time, but it would be inconvenient and a waste of my 'time off', IMO.  And if I'm not there, it's harder for the young people who are new at this [who work for me] to take the time off), and it took me well over 4 hours of research to get enough information to be an informed voter (and I wasn't completely uneducated before I started--I'm decently well read and up to date w/ news)

Mr. Dawbs went in person to vote and waited under 10 minutes and the voting itself (we don't have a machine, we have ballots you fill out and put in privacy sleeves) took 5-10 minutes (he had already researched before hand [actually, he had already stolen allof MY notes and research, same diff ;=P], it would have been much longer if he'd had to read all of it there.  )
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 12, 2012, 04:18:30 PM
The other big holdup is the training of the poll workers.  Each state has different rules about what you need to vote - picture ID, non-picture ID, just your name, etc.  They all also have different rules about how far in advance of the election you have to be registered by (up to and including just walking in), and what the procedure is if someone comes in to vote and they're in the wrong place, don't show up as registered, etc.  Mostly these procedures boil down to "let them vote but keep their votes in a special place so they're only counted if it turns out the poll workers made a mistake in telling them no."  Several states changed their rules this year, or will be changing the rules after this year, and it's been a very political issue.  (One side says tighter voter ID laws helps stop voter fraud, while the other side says in-person fraud doesn't really happen much anyway and requiring ID discourages people in certain demographics - mostly students, immigrants, and the elderly - from voting.)

Anyway, the whole system can be slowed down for quite a while just because one poll worker is doing something wrong (e.g. asking for ID when they're not supposed to) and a voter catches them at it, or a voter is misinformed about the rules and is trying to bully the poll worker into breaking the rules for him/her.  The poll worker then has to call someone senior to sort it all out, and the end result is much longer lines while everyone waits.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Sharnita on November 12, 2012, 04:33:22 PM
Some places in Michigan the ballot was 4 sides long.  Even if you vote the box to mark a straight ticket we have a whole lot of things that are non partisan so you still have to do those position by position, then you had to vote on each of 6 props.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: SamiHami on November 12, 2012, 06:20:05 PM
From what I've heard, the average wait to vote here (southern South Carolina) was about 2.5 hours. I voted absentee, because I've learned my lesson-I'm not waiting in those lines any more. The last time I voted in person I waited at least 3 hours, it was raining off and on, cold and I had the flu. Never again!
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: kherbert05 on November 17, 2012, 10:29:08 AM
I know someone who won a political office that he didn't seek. He was a former member of the city council and I guess his constituents wanted him back.
A similar intention actually got a criminal elected to the Texas Supreme Court. People thought they were voting for a respected attorney, one of the first southern politicians to endorse the Civil Rights act of 1964.


They were actually voting for a man under indictment for forging documents. He ended up resigning then fleeing with his family to Granada.


The first and last names were identical.


And that is how I got on the HS Drill Team (I replaced his daughter after they left) 
 
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Barney girl on November 17, 2012, 03:37:13 PM
I can't think of it ever taking me more than five minutes from entering the building to leaving for voting. I've certainly never had to queue (UK)
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Syrse on May 09, 2013, 04:57:42 AM
Reviving this, sorry if that's not ok, but as to the poll workers:

over here (Belgium), it's not volunteers. You get summoned  ;D Kind of like Jury Duty. They mostly look to people already working in administration.
As for their training... what training? 'You ask for their passport and Voting Document (which gets mailed beforehand), you find them on the list, check them off, stamp the document after voting, and you're done!'

Voting here is mandatory, it's on a free day (sunday), and we mostly vote in schools. The fact that it's mandatory and they therefore know exactly how many people to expect in each district, helps a lot.
Those that do have to work can get a 'get out of voting' paper from work, or, and this helps a lot as well, can give someone else the power to vote in their stead.

The only time I can ever remember waiting for half an hour, was when they had just switched to computers instead of paper. Rest of the years we just stroll in, vote, stroll back out.
Results are ready and in the news the very next morning.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Katana_Geldar on May 09, 2013, 05:40:44 AM
Never really had to queue to vote.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Amava on May 09, 2013, 06:24:20 AM

Results are ready and in the news the very next morning.
And a government, based on those results, is formed as soon as the very next year! LOL

Hi from West-Flanders!  ;D
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Barney girl on May 09, 2013, 09:33:46 AM
I'm ashamed to say I completely forgot to vote in the local elections we had last week. I'd meant to go on the way home from work and only remembered about 11pm.   :-[
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Thipu1 on May 09, 2013, 10:22:01 AM
We're usually on vacation when Election Day rolls around and vote by absentee ballot.  When we do go to the polls on Election Day, we've never had much of a wait.  Five or ten minutes would be the most. Because we vote at a school, part of that time is spent at the PTA bake sale before or after voting.   :) 
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 09, 2013, 10:47:23 AM
Syrse, what happens if you don't vote? And do they really check?
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: kareng57 on May 09, 2013, 12:24:35 PM
We're usually on vacation when Election Day rolls around and vote by absentee ballot.  When we do go to the polls on Election Day, we've never had much of a wait.  Five or ten minutes would be the most. Because we vote at a school, part of that time is spent at the PTA bake sale before or after voting.   :)


Around here (Canada) there's almost always a queue unless you go at mid-day.  There's always a rush when polls open, and another starting at 4 pm because many voters go on their way to or from work.  More and more voters seem to be using the advance polls because there's rarely a line.

If there's a line at poll-closing time, usually the rule is that voters in the line inside the building get to vote, but those outside are out of luck.
Title: Re: Voting
Post by: Syrse on May 09, 2013, 02:17:22 PM

Results are ready and in the news the very next morning.
And a government, based on those results, is formed as soon as the very next year! LOL

Hi from West-Flanders!  ;D

Hahaha, hi! *waves*

Syrse, what happens if you don't vote? And do they really check?

They do a few random checks, and if they catch you, it's a whopping fine of... 25 Euros :p
That said, I know of nobody ever to not vote (in my social circle), except maybe once out of protest because it was a re-vote. Again, the free day and easy access, the fact that it's a family outing for lots of kids so they grow to know it and see it as normal, makes for a big turnout.

*edit* Looked it up for you: last voting 91,54% of the voting population actually voted.