Have you seen them? No, not the people who are still celebrating Halloween or the stores already in holiday mode (we see you, Macy’s), but the stickers. The wonderful little red, white, and blue stickers that advertise your civic duty and also give you various food and beverage discounts. Yeah, those stickers. It’s Election Day 2014 and people have experienced a multitude of problems acquiring their “I Voted” stickers.
Polling locations in Chicago are supposed to be open 6am-7pm, but many voters are complaining that the polls weren’t open. A school polling location did not open until 8am while another location, a restaurant, was forced open after 6am because the owner had yet to arrive. Officials announced that the restaurant will remain open for voting for an extra hour, however other locations that experienced late openings will still close at 7.
“We ran into a number of issues,” Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen said, citing staffing issues at some locations where only a few judges were present. This was the case in the 46th Ward where voters could not cast their ballots until 7:30am.
Elsewhere in Chicago some people have reported having incomplete ballots and multiple polling locations have had problems with electronic voting machines, leading to voters using paper ballots.
The problems are not limited to Chicago. The Georgia Secretary of State’s website, where many voters go to locate their polling location, crashed multiple times Tuesday morning. In Colorado, the Statewide Colorado Registration and Election system needed to be rebooted midday to fix technical problems that had been delaying voters. This system is used at every polling location in Colorado to verify that voters are registered and have not yet cast a ballot.
It appears that these Election Day problems are split between staffing errors and technical glitches. Elections have been taking place for over 200 years, yet major problems always occur. It is one thing for a couple people to fail to arrive at their post and for a couple of computers to malfunction, but there are more than a couple people not showing up at their post and entire computer systems failing. Some people waited out the problems in order to vote, but many people have specific windows for when they can go to a voting location and cast their ballot. Because of their time constraints, the problems have either prevented them from voting entirely or have deterred them from trying. Is there a way to fix the system so that those who choose can receive their “I Voted” stickers problem-free?
How would you manage the problems facing voters on Election Day? Do you think technical issues or staffing problems are easier to prepare and problem solve for? What can be done for future elections to try and minimize problems? Is there a way to make the voting process more efficient?