Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TO DO LIST BEFORE 2014, PART 2: Suggestions To Improve Elections

The day after election day, I set out some of my impressions from my day and believing that most of the issues can be traced back to the elected officials in charge of running the elections at the county and state levels.  The last several days of methodical vote-counting has gained much unfavorable attention around the country, and has given all of us time to think about further ways to improve the process.

I am thinking that some of them will need to be addressed at the legislative level, and I will draft or help draft some possible bills that could be introduced.

Here are two of the points that I would like to see addressed.  (More to come, and your suggestions/feedback/etc are welcome.)

1)   I previously discussed the responsibilities of various parties in the process.  When it came to voters, I noted that pre-election information given to voters is spotty, and that noone can expect Jane and John Q. Public to try to remember necessary information (e.g. re-registering each time you move) between elections.
   a) When a voter registers, he/she must be better-informed about the voting process, and what he/she needs to do.
   b) When the voter registration cards are sent out, each voter must be clearly informed about where to vote (where he currently lives) and whether he/she needs to update registration.
   c) Most importantly, every polling place should post the statutes and explain them so that EVERY VOTER can determine what kind of ballot (regular, provisional, conditional) he/she will be permitted to cast AND whether it will be counted.  Currently, we rely on poll workers and - to a lesser degree - observers, political parties, media and other organizations to inform the voters.  Many voters never get clear and correct information, and many of those votes (approximately one of every five provisionals, according ) will not be counted.

We post many things at each polling place; there is no reason something like the following should not be, as well:
1. Arizona requires you to register to vote. The deadline was 29 days before the elecction.
2. If you received an early ballot and mailed it in (or voted early), you may not vote a 2nd time.  This is not Chicago (e.g. "vote early, vote often"), Illinois.  (just kidding)  However, if you believe in good faith that you mailed your early ballot too late for it to be received by 7:00pm tonight, you MAY vote a "provisional ballot" today.  We will check to make sure that only one of your ballots will be counted. (This takes days after the election, and we will count your mailed ballot if it was received before the deadline.  We do not even look at early ballots that come in the mail tomorrow or later.)
3.  YOU MUST VOTE at the polling place designated for your CURRENT residence. (Not always closest to your residence, the posted maps or our poll workers will help make sure you vote in the right place. If you do not vote in the correct place, your vote will not be counted!
   a)  If you have moved within the past 29 days (within the county), you can vote (1) in your old precinct, or (2) a provisional ballot at your new precinct.
4.  ID
5.  Conditional provisional.
6.  Assistance.
7.  Challenged.
8.  Other issues.

2)  It is not reasonable for county or state elections officials to follow up with those voters who cast conditional provisional ballots (because of lack of sufficient identification at the polls); however, it is reasonable that political parties and/or other organizations should be able to follow up. Each polling place currently builds a register of voters who cast provisional ballots, and the parties' observers are able to take the "tear sheets" of this register.  There would seem to be no reason that that register cannot have an additional column to designate whether the provisional was conditional or not.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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