Re: Reflections on the election and implications for the OVC

From: Barbara Simons <simons_at_acm_dot_org>
Date: Wed Nov 03 2004 - 17:14:24 CST

I was a poll worker, and we also had very long lines, especially for the
first few hours. It was so intense that the poll workers barely had time to
get a drink of water.

But part of the problem was the bottleneck of identifying each voter
individually. First we'd look up the voter's name. If found, we'd then
increment by one the number of people who have voted, have the voter sign
the book, and ask the voter if s/he wanted paper or touch screen voting.
(Incidentally, this was in violation of the mandate that had been issued by
our Registrar of voting, who had instructed poll works not to ask. I
started asking immediately, and since I was the inspector, the other poll
workers did the same).

If the voter's name was not found, we then had to look at two other lists.
If still not found, the voter had the option of submitting a provisional
ballot. Because I was working on the Stanford campus and many of the
students were first time voters, some of whom came to the wrong polling
location, we had a lot of provisional ballots. At one time, I looked around
the room and there were quite a number of students sitting on the floor
filling out their provisional optical scan ballots.

While the majority of voters chose to vote on the touch screen machines (I
didn't state an opinion unless asked), there were not too many times when
people were waiting for the machines. They were more likely waiting to sign
up to vote.


On 11/3/04 14:11, "Alan Dechert" <> wrote:

> Charlie,
>> Lines: lines caused by the sheer number of voters (and not other
>> problems) come from one source alone: Not enough polling
>> stations at the precint. How OVC addresses this: there are two
>> ways. first, unlike other systems using an inflexible number of
>> expensive polling stations OVC uses cheap, almost discardable
>> (give them to schools) stations. Thus dynamically increasing the
>> number of polling stations a few months before anticipated heavy
>> turn-out is indeed a possibility. Just buy more cheap PCs. Yes
>> you have to buy more screens too. But the point is there's no
>> bottle neck in supply. And after the election you are not stuck
>> with more machines than you need on hand for most elections.
> I was about to say that. Thanks, Charlie, for saying that. Early voting is
> being promoted precisely because DREs are expensive. It's a way to get more
> usage out of these machines. It's typical of the mentality that prevails
> with many election officials: Let's plan the voting system and procedures
> with election administration considerations paramount -- the voter's
> concerns (long lines) is not so important.
>> Electrical failure:
> Polling places should have secure power. This was to be a major piece of
> the scientific study for which we've been trying to get funding. Pollsite
> power needs to be secure to ensure available lighting as well as power for
> the machines.
> Alan D.
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Received on Tue Nov 30 23:17:06 2004

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