Can we handle the voters?

The coming presidential election is expected to bring a flood of new voters to the polls. Registration figures in many states are already at record highs and there are many weeks left for new voters to register. Many of these new voters will be unfamiliar with using a voting machine, and even experienced voters may be facing a new type of machine this year. More than half of all voters will be using machines different from the ones they used in the last presidential election. How are the states handling this issue? An article in the N.Y. Times outlines the problems that must be overcome. An unusually large number of poll workers must be found and trained, and many states, including California, do not have adquate resources to pay for these. If a paper trail must be generated, the election departments must order enough ballots to meet the needs of each polling place without ordering so many that there will be expensive wastage. Voting lists much be updated and checked or voters may find themselves unable to cast a ballot. Tova A. Wang, vice president for research at Common Cause is quoted as saying “Allocating enough ballots and machines is a tricky science under any circumstances, but especially when turnout is proving to be so unpredictable.” This year more than any other, League members and others committed to encouraging voting need to volunteer to help their local election department to educate new and inexperienced voters about what to expect when they enter to voting booth. It will be a big job for all of us.

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