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Alternative Voting Methods

Title: Alternative Voting Methods

Content: Download the file for this section - Alternative Voting Methods (1Mb)

Comments:

Comment  Creator  Last Modified 

In my opinion, Florida's concern about having the voting day as a federal holiday has been the cost of poll workers and staff working on a federal holiday.

fortis 08/04/2008 12:25 PM
  lamonel 08/08/2008 08:17 AM

Since Election Day as a Holiday does not seem to increase voter turnout and given the drawbacks outlined, I do not see an advantage. 

hpurcell 08/05/2008 02:50 PM

All are good case studies and applicable where state law requires certain procedures.  Arizona has had tremendous success with early balloting by mail, eliminating the need for some of the early voting centers.  We continue to see an increase each election cycle now representing almost 50% of the ballots cast.

hpurcell 08/05/2008 02:27 PM

Early Voting in Texas:

  • With regards to Establishing Early Voting Sites, it should be noted that while voting locations are not entirely chosen at random, and that certain early voting location requirements are determined by the Texas Election Code (TEC), that local election officials are given considerable latitude when determining the exact locations of early voting sites, particularly in densely populated, urban areas.  This subsection should be revised to include additional information with regards to how local officials in densely populated areas choose locations, given the minimal guidance provided by the TEC.  Specifically, information should be included as to whether and how public input is taken into consideration when making polling place determinations, as these choices can have a discriminatory impact – i.e., fewer early voting sites in predominantly minority areas.
  • With regards to Voter Turnout, the NVRA went into effect on January 1, 1995 and the number of registered voters went up dramatically (8,641,848 in November 1994 compared to 10,540,678 in November 1996) so it is no surprise that the percentage of registered voters who have turned out has gone down in certain elections since 1995.  To that end, Figure 1 and/or the preceding text should be revised to point out this flaw in the figure. With regards to Voter Turnout, the section should be revised to include in very clear terms reasons and corresponding supporting evidence for the general statement that early voting appears to serve only as an alternative method for active voters who would have otherwise voted on Election Day, including the correlation between the data and figures provided and what effect this has on whether or not those who voted early would have not voted on Election Day had that option not been available.  Additionally, the evidence, which relies primarily on Figure 1, is not as clear cut as indicated (see comment regarding Figure 1). This should also be addressed in the conclusion section, which is based on the original assumption that is given in the Voter Turnout section. 
  • With regards to Legal Challenges, the conclusion and/or Feasibility and Advisability sections should be revised to include a reminder that any proposed changes to elections and voting procedures, including proposed early voting implementation, in jurisdictions covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act cannot be implemented legally without Section 5 preclearance.  Additionally, for that reason, the section(s) should also be revised to include a suggestion that any proposed changes to elections and voting procedures, including proposed early voting implementation, should be submitted to the DOJ well in advance of the election to ensure that proposed changes and its implementation comports with the law.

 

barnwine 08/08/2008 02:52 PM

Election Day as a Holiday: Illinois and Maryland:

  • Given the lack of tested data included on the effect of recent Election Day Holiday implementation compared to that of voting statistics for those same jurisdictions prior to the implementation of Election Day Holidays, the section should be revised to point out that an Election Day Holiday would more than likely, if at all, serve as a true alternative voting method in that most of those people who would vote on an Election Day Holiday are those same individuals who would most likely vote on a non-holiday Election Day.  As it stands, there is no clear indication or explanation that any differences in voter turnout in Election Day Holiday jurisdictions versus non-Election Day Holiday jurisdictions has any thing to with the implementation of Election Day as a holiday, and in order to make recommendations one way or the other with regards to this point in the Feasibility and Advisability section, the precise correlation should be made clear first.

 

barnwine 08/08/2008 02:56 PM

Under Maryland law, State employees who serve as pollworkers on a day they are scheduled to work earn up to 8 hours of administrative leave.  In the 2006 General Election, then-Governor Robert Ehrlich offered additional leave as an incentive to encourage State employees to serve as election judges.  (As the General Election is a State holiday, the provision in State law offering administrative leave did not apply to most State employees as they were not scheduled to work.) 

The references on pages 13 (2nd full paragraph) and 18 (3rd full paragraph) should reflect the incentive of additional leave.  Without this incentive, it is questionable whether we would have as many State employees serving as pollworkers as we currently do. 

 

On page 46, there is a typo in the first sentence of the 3rd paragraph under "Implementation and Effect."  The "us" should be "is."

lamonel 08/08/2008 08:17 AM

Colorado Vote Centers:

  • The section should be revised to include more information about the implementing jurisdictions regarding the criteria used to determine the location of the "super polling place"; public input on the location sites; parking availability and accessibility of the voter center locations; the number of "super polling places" compared to the number of polling places in the same jurisdiction prior to implementation; the number of terminals used in each polling place to query the central voter database; and what backup and contingency plans were ultimately put in place in the event of a communications failure.
  • The Feasibility and Advisability section should be revised to emphasize that successful implementation of Vote Centers hinges upon adequate minimum technological standards, capabilities, and reliability of the location, voting systems, and election procedures.

 

barnwine 08/08/2008 03:05 PM
  mleek 08/06/2008 03:12 PM

General comments

 

As members of the EAC Board of Advisors, the Access Board appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the publication Alternative Voting Methods.

We encourage research on and development of alternative voting methods.  Not only can this make voting more available and appealing to the general population, but it may also open new opportunities for people with disabilities.   Our main interest is in maximizing independence of people with disabilities. With regard to accessibility, alternative voting methods should not take a step backwards from progress we have made in precinct-based voting.

 

 

nmelick 08/08/2008 09:51 AM
  trokita1 08/08/2008 03:33 PM

1.  Election Day as a Holiday: Illinois and Maryland

Regarding the discussion of an election day holiday in Illinois:  State employees do get Election Day off, for general elections when the members of the legislature are on the ballot. 

  • The public at-large has no such holiday.
  • No local government employees do.
  • Schools, banks and private businesses do not close.

 

This article draws broad conclusions about the effect of turnout on election administration from an apparent assumption that Election Day is a general holiday in Illinois.  It is not.

 

Conclusions drawn from that assumption should be re-examined.

 

 

2.  Weekend voting –Louisiana, Texas, Delaware

This study looks at selected individual counties in Louisiana, Texas and Delaware in which weekend voting is practiced.  The study acknowledges that the data is weak because so few counties actually use weekend voting that there is not much evidence about it.  The study makes some fairly broad conclusions:

  • That weekend voting has little, if any, measurable effect on turnout compared to traditional Tuesday voting,
  • That there are problems in recruiting election worker for weekends, which are traditional "get-away" days,
  • That voters may not be interested because they want to "get away" on weekends,
  • That there are probably higher administrative costs for weekend voting than for Tuesday elections.

 

These findings seem dubious to me.  Take the difficulty of recruiting poll workers, for instance: in Cook County having Election Day on the weekend would free up 100,000 county, city, municipal workers and teachers available for recruitment as poll workers. 

 

I’d suggest studies to probe the interest of voters in the convenience of weekend voting versus Tuesday voting.

 

Furthermore, I wonder where there has been any attempt to study weekend voting in those countries which practice it.  This might be a fruitful direction for study.

 

Thanks very much,

 David Orr

 

davidorr 08/08/2008 02:29 PM

Uniform Poll Closing:

  • Given the inclusion of the Section in the Report, the Feasibility and Advisability section should be revised to include a section on Uniform Poll Closing with a heavy emphasis that this particular proposed idea is neither feasible nor advisable for all the reason for the many reasons indicated in the section, including the costs, lack of demonstrated evidence on the effect on turnout, and lack of correlating evidence in the premise that voters on one coast are, in fact, influenced by announced election returns, particularly given that only the Presidential contest, occurring every four years, would be affected by such an implementation.

 

barnwine 08/08/2008 03:13 PM

Specific comments

Vote-by-mail

The Access Board is glad to see that special attention has been given to addressing people with disabilities in Oregon.  It was interesting to read that this approach gives voters more time to understand the issues and voting procedures. This could be beneficial to some people with cognitive disabilities. We encourage an accessibility analysis of how this approach compares to precinct-based approaches.  Here are some questions for consideration:

 

  • How might the needs of people with severe disabilities (e.g., unable to use arms) be addressed?  They might not be able to handle the ballot and envelope independently.  Perhaps they would go to the county clerk’s office where greater accessibility could be provided?

 

  • What equipment is provided at the county clerk’s office?  Is their DRE voting system conformant with the VVSG?

 

  • When voters use the ABMS to send a fax from the county clerk’s office, how is privacy ensured (on both ends)?

 

  • How might ABMS users independently verify their vote, to the SI standard?  Are OCR scanners provided at the county clerk’s offices?

 

  • How do voting systems security experts (e.g. MIT, UC-Berkley, Johns Hopkins, etc) feel about a ballot provided via the Internet and other aspects of these ABMS procedures?

 

 

Transportation

Many voters, including some people with disabilities, depend on public transportation to travel to and from polling places. Where consideration is given to alternative voting days when the transit schedule is normally adjusted for lower ridership, such as holidays and weekends, it is important to also consider keeping municipal buses, trains and other such modes of travel open at a normal Monday through Friday schedule. This would include MetroAccess for people with disabilities.  This should also be factored into the economic impact analysis.

 

 

Recruiting/training

In light of Election Day as a holiday, perhaps special consideration could be given to recruiting and training state employees to work in polling places on Election Day. There would be several advantages to this proposal:

  • It might result in an increase in polling place workers, specifically a younger demographic.
  • The state could support the advance training of these special professional poll workers by allowing them to be trained while on the clock as state employees.
  • This might allow more hours for more extensive training than that which is normally provided.
  • We would like to recommend that it become a standard of the training curriculum to shine a spotlight on accessible voting system proficiency and to not leave it as the last item on the agenda, a time during which trainers and trainers are anxious to leave. Anecdotes from 2008 have indicated that: some trainers tend to "rush" through training; trainees are not required to individually set up and try out the accessible voting equipment; use of accessible voting systems is discouraged as difficult to use; and people with disabilities tend to be portrayed in a fashion that stereotypes and pities them, as if all people with disabilities are mentally challenged and live in group homes. 

 

Hopefully an advanced training would help correct this top-down misperception that has been directly reflected in some Election Day experiences and complaints by people with disabilities, and to be clear, these are not ADA complaints.  These complaints include, but are not limited to: staff at the polling place insufficiently trained on how to use the accessible voting station; allowing people without disabilities an opportunity to practice voting at a demo station, but disallowing people with disabilities the same experience; not proactively encouraging people who have explicitly described their disability at the check-in desk to try the accessible voting system, and not knowing that "accessible voting system" (as recommended by TGDC) is the proper term to use.  People with disabilities should be affirmatively involved in planning and monitoring such improvements. 

 

We encourage the EAC to consider research in the future specific to accessibility.  It would be curious to compare outcomes regarding use of the accessible voting system in precincts that underwent a new intensive and comprehensive disability issues training with precincts that did not. This would mean that anyone from that polling place who interfaces with the public that Election Day would hold special accessibility expertise.

nmelick 08/08/2008 09:58 AM

I thank staff for their work on this report.  I have a few comments:

On pg. 4 it would be helpful if the report would address how County Commissioners Courts decide on placement of early voting locaions.

On pgs. 30-31 it would be useful if the report included some analysis of the effect of vote-by-mail on rural versus urban areas. 

On pg. 34 the report should specify how Colorado's super precincts are drawn.

On pg. 59 the report offers no basis for speculating on whether election result projections from the East coast affect those on the West coast.  there is no way to weigh the relative costs and benefits of this proposal without some evidence about the effect of the projections.  The report should clarify that the benefits are entirely unknown while the costs of uniform poll closing are extreme.

amelendez 08/08/2008 11:11 AM

Vote-By-Mail:

Indiana prosecutors and election administrators have dealt with many cases of voter fraud across the state for a number of years. Throughout my tenure as Secretary of State, allegations of voter fraud have been recorded in both small and large counties, recent convictions reveal this is not solely an urban or rural crime.  Voter fraud is a proven danger that dilutes honest votes and erodes public confidence of our electoral process.

 

Voting absentee by mail is a legitimate and important way to cast a ballot, voting only by mail will remove safeguards Indiana and many other states have put in place to protect the integrity of the voting process.  In addition to changes in absentee voting procedures and photo ID requirements, one of the most important fraud prevention measures is that of bipartisan precinct election boards (poll workers), political party watchers, media watchers, and the candidates themselves who witness the voting taking place on Election Day.  Their contributions to fair and accurate elections are just as important as the reforms implemented through HAVA.  All of these safeguards are needed to ensure Hoosiers are achieving fairness and accuracy within the election process. 

 

Moving the voting process to a soley vote-by-mail system is an open invitation for voter fraud.  We live in a transient society; most voters move many times throughout their lives.  Frequent relocation is even more common among students and the younger generations.  Mailing ballots to an exponentially increasing number of registration addresses leaves hundreds of thousands of otherwise protected ballots at easy access for those who commit voter fraud. 

 

Not all voters wish to vote in all elections, a reality that would also create thousands of unused ballots floating around in a vote-by-mail only system.  There are many voters who only vote in presidential elections, others only local elections, and still others only because a friend or relative is on the ballot.  Sending hundreds of thousands of unwanted ballots is a waste of time, taxpayer dollars, and once again, an invitation to fraud. 

 

New concepts like vote centers and early voting increase the opportunity to participate in the election process and provide alternatives to traditional voting.  If the people of Oregon, or any other state for that matter, prefer this system, that is their choice and we should respect it, just as we should respect every state’s duties and rights when it comes to the election process.  Because when it comes to the election process and voting, like so very many other things in life, one size does not fit all.

 

Ultimately, voting is a community event that should be protected with effective absentee ballot processes, increased accessibility to polling locations, and the assurance that each person’s vote will not be liquidated through voter fraud. Alternatively, many simple protections would be lost through a new vote-by-mail only system, such as the opportunity for political parties, the media, and concerned citizens to ensure the voting process is conducted fairly and accurately. Most importantly, a vote-by-mail system would increase the opportunity for voter fraud - a risk that works against the very charge kept by many of us in government, the charge to protect each individual’s right to vote.  

 

Vote Centers:

Indiana has three counties serving as "pilot counties" for the vote centers model.  We are excited with the early successes of these counties and look forward to expanding the option for all counties to use vote centers as an alternative to traditional precinct-based voting.  Vote centers offers the following:

Taxpayer savings - Vote Centers allows the county to serve more voters with fewer resources. Election administrators can move from inadequate polling places to bigger and more convenient facilities, accommodating larger numbers of voters in centralized locations while significantly reducing the number of polling places needed.  Fewer polling places translate into fewer machines and fewer paid poll workers.

Improving Election Integrity – Imperative to the success of Vote Centers is a direct, secured connection between the county’s voter registration records and electronic poll books stored at county election board offices. The electronic poll book is updated in real-time and allows election officials to ensure that each person votes only once. This electronic safeguard improves the security of elections and instills voter confidence.

Voting Convenience – Counties have used the precinct-based voting system since before Abraham Lincoln served as president and while it was efficient at the time, the system is no longer the best way to administer elections in some jurisdictions. By offering the option of voting at the location most convenient for individuals, Vote Centers can be strategically and centrally located. Centers can be established in high-traffic, accessible locations, with preference given to locations along public transit lines, such as libraries, shopping malls, senior centers, grocery stores and public office buildings. The Vote Centers concept offers a sound method for modernizing our time-tested practice of voting in the communities where we live and work.

Local Control – The current Vote Centers initiative protects the ability of local county election boards to make election administration decisions based on what works best for their communities with a unanimous, bipartisan vote. Because the Vote Centers concept is not a one size fits all solution to election administration in each of Indiana’s 92 counties but can be adapted to a particular county’s size and voter make-up, it provides more flexibility and the ability to reduce the expense of administering elections.    jm

trokita1 08/08/2008 03:42 PM