Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Voting System Fails "Convenience" Premise

“Mixed Review,” proclaimed the headline on the Albuquerque Journal’s story today about the new voting approach in Bernalillo County.

I disagree. The system fails to deliver the promised convenience.

To start, consider the premise. Truncating the number of polling places from 180 to 69 and promising convenience requires a huge blowing of smoke that apparently has been successful. No one has examined the premise. Let’s see: About a third the number of locations and more convenience?

The second, barely touched upon problem is the math. To take the number of voters from each of the old locations and project them to the new locations would be straightforward, except that now people can vote anywhere. Randomness has entered the voter projections projection by location and clearly County Clerk Maggie Toulouse hasn’t figured out how to make the projections.

A little lie—but still a lie—came at my chosen polling place, Montezuma Elementary School. The poll worker said the new system was more convenient because you didn’t have to sign your name twice, as was the case under the old system. In fact, now one must sign once. The time saved: 10 seconds.

There is no way to measure, but I’m confident that the new system of finding the voter name in the data base and producing a custom ballot takes longer than old “inconvenient” two-signature approach.

At 5:15 P.M. yesterday, Montezuma had a small line going out the door. It was a hassle, however, because entrance chosen for the Montezuma gym, the polling place, was a single door, therefore forcing voters to squirm by one another while entering and leaving. One man looked at the line and left. Come November, that outdoor line will drive away more voters and seriously inconvenience more.

Even with all this, Montezuma worked much better for my 92-year-old walker-using mother than did Jefferson Middle School for the city election last year. The entry area was flat and easy to access by car.

I’ll concede the new system one thing, an old thing, actually—the paper ballot. I feel better with that piece of paper around somewhere.

Finally, that it takes longer to produce results from the new, alleged more automated system, is just absurd.

See my October 5, 2011, post about the wonders of voting at Jefferson:

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