Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Voter Turn-out

It is no wonder that voter turn-out is always so poor on election day. Some places just don't make it easy to vote.

In 2004 I drove to the polling location closest to my home -- a school just two blocks away. I was told that I was at the wrong location and couldn't vote there. I was redirected to a firehouse that was over five times the distance from my house. I voted there, but my wife couldn't, because she had forgotten to update her voter registration. She had to drive fifteen minutes away to vote at the polling location she would have used when she lived with her parents.

This morning I woke up and headed out to vote. I drove to the same firehouse I voted at last time only to find that there were no polls at that location this year. So I returned home and attempted to find more information online about where to vote. I found a list with more than thirty different polling locations in the area, but the list did nothing to tell me which one of those locations I could vote at. So I returned to that same elementary school just two blocks from my home, hoping to be pointed in the right direction again. This time I was directed to yet another elementary school even further from my home that the firehouse had been.

Luckily I chose to take the day off from work today so I could vote. I work two hours from home. The polls in Indiana close at 6pm. I could have worked today and left at 3pm, giving myself an hour after getting home to get to the polls and vote. But what would have happened? I very possibly could have run out of time trying to find out where to vote and never made it to the polling location on time.

Why is it that we can't just vote at any polling location in the state? I understand that there are different ballots for different districts, but in this age of technology, could they not all be loaded as PDF files onto a computer and printed for you to vote if you were voting at a polling location outside the district you live in? It seems that, more than just the polling equipment, the whole process of voting in America needs an overhaul. Some states vote online. Why is that not good enough for the whole country? Some states allow you to vote early (Indiana is one, and I will probably do that next time, though there is something patriotic feeling about voting on election day that I imagine I won't feel voting early).

We need to get this process streamlined to allow everyone to vote -- and to maybe even encourage those apathetic citizens who wouldn't vote if you brought the ballot to their front door. I think that unless and until that happens, we will continue to see lower than desired voter turn-out.


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