Tuesday, November 2, 2004

notes from a texas poll

number of voters in the precinct: about 1700
number of early voters: about 700
number of election day voters: about 500
approximate turnout of this precinct: about 70%

the winner in this precinct: bush, 2:1 margin. no surprise there.

voters started lining up at the poll at 06:10, and the polls did not open until 07:00. by o7:00 the line stretched down the block and around the corner.

the polls were open for 12 hours.

in our precinct we used electronic scanners that read paper ballots. there were two major issues with the system: first, voters sometimes didn't understand how to mark the ballots, and the machine is rather sensitive about spitting them out. but this can be handled and most voters who had trouble with it got it on the second try. second, because we were paired with another precinct we had more than one ballot machine in the room. this led to some confusion as voters put their ballot into the wrong machine. the machines would spit them out and we'd direct the voter, and life went on.

observations about the day:

the help america vote act creates this system of "provisional ballots," and the way it works makes it harder to get a potentially questionable ballot counted than the old "affidavit of challenged voter" list.

because of how it works, it's tremendously more important that a voter know where they need to go. but many voters dont.

however, there is no clear, easy, fast and reliable way for poll workers -- the people in touch with the voters on election day -- to pull voters' registration information. a telephone system exists, but it's unreliable at best and a nightmare at worst.

on the whole it went well. i will write more tomorrow about it.

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