Author Topic: Voting  (Read 7713 times)

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melbelle39

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Voting
« on: November 09, 2012, 05:48:18 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?



camlan

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Re: Voting
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2012, 06:23:01 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.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Jones

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Re: Voting
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2012, 08:27:49 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...).

blue2000

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Re: Voting
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2012, 08:53:15 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. :-[
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

WillyNilly

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Re: Voting
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2012, 09:29:25 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).
« Last Edit: November 09, 2012, 09:33:55 AM by WillyNilly »

Slartibartfast

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Re: Voting
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2012, 09:41:09 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!

Seraphia

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Re: Voting
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2012, 09:53:44 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.
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WillyNilly

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Re: Voting
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2012, 09:57:42 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.

Two Ravens

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Re: Voting
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2012, 10:10:46 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.

Flora Louise

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Re: Voting
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2012, 10:23:21 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.
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CakeBeret

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Re: Voting
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2012, 10:25:48 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.
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HorseFreak

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Re: Voting
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2012, 10:26:43 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.

Betelnut

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Re: Voting
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2012, 10:28:55 AM »
Are polls manned by volunteers?  I was paid when I was a poll worker in Texas many years ago.
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WillyNilly

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Re: Voting
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2012, 10:31:29 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.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2012, 10:37:21 AM by WillyNilly »

portiafimbriata

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Re: Voting
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2012, 10:32:15 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.
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