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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?

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.

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...).


--- Quote from: 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?


We usually get results the same evening unless its close.

So - how do you do it?

--- End quote ---

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. :-[

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).


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