While waiting in line to vote yesterday, I made some observations.
I had plenty of time to observe.
You see, the process took a full hour. I measured it from the time I walked into the school to the time I exited the school.
My first observation… There were plenty of machines.
In fact, from my vantage point at the back of the line, this confused me. I observed that almost always, at least half of the machines were not being used. There was even one moment when all machines were empty. Not a single voter touching a single screen. Yet the line was not moving.
As I rounded the last switch-back of the line, I finally saw the sign telling me what the rules were. It told me what to bring to identify myself. It instructed me that I could not electioneer within 150 feet of the premises. I had to wonder why such a sign was not posted prominently at the front of the queue, instead of at the end? It wasn’t a problem for me, but I wondered how some would feel if they waited their turn for 50 minutes, only to find this poster and learn that they were not prepared with the right identification?
The excitement built as I could see the judges table ahead. I finally took my turn at the table. It was then that I confirmed the real bottle neck to the operation.
One judge verified my driver’s license very quickly.
One judge waited anxiously, ready to hand me my electronic voting card.
The judge in the middle fumbled with a giant book of voter registration. He was an older man with a shaky hand. He had trouble reading the print, and even some difficulty turning individual pages. Yet every voter needed to pass through this judge, assigned to handle the book.
It was clear why many machines were always empty.
I do not profess to know all of the rules of election judging, but it instantly occurred to me that if they could split this book in half – one containing names A-M and the other containing names N-Z – and if the other two judges could have handled the books, the entire operation would have been much more efficient.
Yet there was nothing I – or any of us – could do but suffer through the process until our turn arrived.
My final observation was that those with handicaps – older persons with difficulty walking, standing, or changing from sitting to standing positions – could really have used some kind of handicap pass to hold their place in line. Hand the person at the back of the line a card. Allow the disabled voter to come to the front and wait comfortably. When their position in line reaches the front (as indicated by the card’s arrival), call them up and allow them to vote. But do not make the elderly suffer through the hour wait, slowly shuffling through switchbacks.
These were my observations while voting. I hope that maybe someone in charge will see them and be better prepared for the next time.