Voting Centers? Really Ken, that’s your plan?


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

After spending the past two weeks in the national spotlight of shame for a poorly managed election, Secretary of State Ken "Birther" Bennett says that things went well, and only minor tweaks are needed. His only specific proposal so far is moving to "voting centers" instead of precinct voting, something I support as part of a package of larger reforms, but standing alone is not a solution to the problem. State officials seek vote reform:

Tuesday, Maricopa County elections officials announced they had nearly
completed the count from the 2012 election, with only write-in ballots
left to tally. Maricopa, the largest county, was the last to finish its

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he will meet with
Arizona's 15 county elections officials to work on improvements to the
state's election system, from registration to ballot counting.

And House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, said he will introduce legislation to create a bipartisan commission to examine the 2012 election, as well as the 2010 and 2008 elections.

"Arizonans deserve real answers about what happened during this election," Campbell said in a written statement. "We need to know what caused the irregularities."

* * *

In a news conference, Bennett emphasized he is not proposing to scrap the state's existing system. In fact, he said, the system is working well, noting that it took 15 days to count the returns from the 2008 presidential election and that was in a year with fewer provisional ballots and fewer early ballots that came in late.

To cut down on a delay in final returns, Bennett said, counties might want to establish voting centers, which were authorized in a 2011 law that he proposed.

Voting Centers? Really Ken, that's your plan?

The real problem lies with our our antiquated and assbackwards voter registration system. As Jonathan Bernstein writes at the Plum Line, Here’s a thought. Why don’t we make voting easy?:

Same-day voter registration is, in fact, a bad policy — because
registration should be automatic
. But in the current situation it’s the
least-bad of bad policies. That’s because everything about voter
registration in this country is awful. We should have universal,
automatic voter registration. Period. End of story. Just as most
democracies do

Having an extra burden on voters to get themselves registered (and,
given how often Americans move, re-registered and re-registered again)
is a bad idea
. Granted, automatic voter registration for all would take
federal government action, and there’s not much chance the the
Republican House of Representatives will agree to anything like that any
time soon. Still, it would be good to see some real movement on this in
Congress, even if passage is unlikely this time around.

That’s not the only reform Congress could adopt. Senator Chris Coons has drafted promising reform legislation.
Among his ideas: Giving federal grants to states that develop plans to
make it easy to vote through streamlined registration, early voting,
better training of election officials and other fixes. Separately, as
Greg noted here recently, the Brennan Center for Justice has suggested a
long set of reforms that would especially help alleviate election day problems.

Look: either you believe in democracy, or you don’t. If you do, you
should be trying to make it easier for people to vote. Full stop.
American elections administration right now is an embarrassment, but
it’s actually a fairly easy problem to fix.

The problem is, the Republican Party has been invested in suppressing the vote for years, not making it easier for people to vote.


  1. As an official observer at a Yuma countywide polling place, I can say the primary cause of so many provisional ballots was the Arizona voter ID law. If the address on your photo ID did not match the one on the list of voters, you got a provisional ballot, unless you just so happen to have two other legally defined pieces of ID with the address matching your photo ID. For many in Yuma County not any easy trip to run home to find an electrical bill, tax bill, bank statement, etc., or run into Yuma with your supplementary ID. I would be curious as to how many were thrown out because of address mismatch.

    There were other issues: shortage of precinct specific ballots, no printer, a roughly 45 minute trip to deliver more ballots and only two touchscreens for those without a printed ballot.

    The most curious cause for many provisional ballots was the voter flagged as supposedly mailed an absentee ballot but never received one. This happened too often to be a case of absent mindedness. One fellow was quite irate because he had made a special effort to tell the recorder he did not want an absentee ballot.

    The good news is that the poll workers were well trained, courteous, efficient with excellent supervision. They did the very best that was possible.

    Provisional ballots, long delays on results will be a fact of life for some time to come unless the voter ID law is deleted or significantly modified. (Unfortunately, as you know, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Arizona’s right to require voter ID.)