November 1, 2012

Editorial: Voting must be easy task

Sometimes, following the letter of the law means that the handwriting is on the wall for someone. When it comes to as fundamental a function as voting, governments should direct their efforts to making everything as easy as possible for citizens, as they concentrate as well on making sure everything is done correctly and fairly.

We’ve just been told about a voting ordeal one of our readers in Florida was obliged to endure, and it makes you wonder why somebody hadn’t foreseen problems such as this and headed them off.

Our reader and her husband had arranged to vote early in Florida. As it turns out, it’s probably a good thing, because, if her experience is any indicator, Election Day will be quite the mess.

They showed up at their polling place on Tuesday morning, Oct. 30, to find a line so long it snaked outside the building and around it. But at least voting is a quick and easy process, so the line should shrink rapidly, right? Not exactly.

The method of voting was identical to the one employed hereabouts: a paper ballot that must be filled out and fed into an electronic reader.

The line traversed several rooms, each with a different function: one housed an ID check; in another, the ballots were handed out; in a third, the ballots were actually filled out.

Our reader was very shortly chagrined at how little movement seemed to be taking place. They were standing in line for agonizingly long minutes without advancing.

Eventually, it became obvious why: Through no one’s fault, 11 propositions and an amendment were on the ballot. That’s government.

But some fault lay with the voters themselves, most of whom were entirely unfamiliar with the issues and had to read through page after page of explanation of the propositions and amendment. The lesson here is to get to know your ballot and what’s on it before joining the crowd at the polls.

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