Long Lines at Voting Booths Are More of a Turn-off Than We Think
Nov 06, 2008 | 8721 views | 0 0 comments | 103 103 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Early voting options in some areas did not ease the pain of long lines at election booths throughout the country on Tuesday. How prepared was New York State for a large turnout on Election Day? Not Very.

According to a study at the Brennan Center For Justice, part of NYU, New York is above average compared to the country in “getting it right.” But that still doesn’t mean that long lines weren’t fairly common throughout New York City this Election Day.

One voter who we caught up with an hour into his wait at a Park Slope site said it was worth it. But he also said if it were not a presidential election he would be less inclined to come out if there was a line like this. One of our staffers got caught in an hour and a half line in Jamaica early Tuesday, and said, “I’m not going back. It wasn’t like they were getting rowdy, but it was certainly disenfranchising.”

There is no doubt that since the last presidential election there have been dramatic, widespread improvements in the antiquated voting systems around the country. New York has maintained the mechanical lever-type voting booths, which have been, generally, as reliable as they come.

Lawrence Norden, director of the Voting Technology Project at the Brennan Center, points out in his 50-state report card that voting system failures are the main cause for long lines. While “not disenfranchising voters” is the buzz phrase in the voting machine industry, it seems that the long lines had little to do with machine failure, and more to do with the lack of available machines in Queens and Brooklyn.

New York is exploring a new voting system. They are favoring using computer screen full-faced ballot. Every voter takes a bit more than 3 minutes to vote on this type of machine, so each machine can take less than 300 voters in a 15-hour election day. Do the math. Think about the size of your own polling place. There are not enough machines to serve us in an election where even 60 percent of the voters come out.

A recent report released by the New York City Board of Elections on voting machines assumes that 50 percent of registered voters will appear at a voting booth in a given election. The report, which they use to figure out the number of voting machines to purchase, does not consider peak voting periods, nor does it analyze the affect of voters with special needs (some of whom will take up to 20 minutes to cast a ballot).

Will we soon approach Election Day with the hope that the national polls are such that our vote in this “Blue State” is not important? Maybe.

Wake up, we need more machines!
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