Tuesday we will have a new photo ID law that slows down the process for checking in to vote, whether the voter presents an ID or signs an affidavit. We don’t have a lot of additional election workers; the workers we do have are new at this. There will be longer lines than usual and more confusion than usual.
Here are some suggestions on what each voter may be able to do to help.These are based on my experience working at the polls for the past couple dozen elections. The process can vary from one town to another – your mileage may vary.
- Know where your voting place is. In particular, if you live in a city, ward boundaries may have moved since 2010 due to redistricting. We always get people who have stood in a long line, only to find out that they need to vote at a different polling place.
- If you have the flexibility, come in to vote when it isn’t “rush hour.” In my ward we get a lot of voters when the polls open and another rush from 4PM on. It will vary from community to community, but in my ward things tend to be quiet at 10:30AM or 2PM (for example). If you can help spread the load by voting when it isn’t busy, that will help. (This is particularly useful for guilt-free affidavit use.)
- Again in my ward, I’m particularly worried about parking. The lot next to the polling place has often filled up even in earlier elections. I plan to do a bit more walking Tuesday and leave an extra space available. If you can park a block away, or take an autumn stroll to the voting place, that might help. (In other polling places this won’t be an issue at all.)
- Respect the utter lack of influence and power we poll-workers have. If you want to explain to me why the new voter ID law is outrageous voter suppression, or conversely why it is a welcome move in improving election integrity – that won’t be very effective. We’re not keeping track of these comments, so the legislators won’t hear about your concerns through that channel .I won’t even engage you -at the polls, I try to be Mister Neutrality, making the voting place welcoming to all. But editorializing could slow down the line. Buy me a coffee Wednesday and we can chat.
- Does the person behind you in line look frail? Is he using a cane? Is she nervously checking her watch? You could help by letting them go ahead of you. That helps whether there are delays from affidavits or not.
- Have you seen a sample ballot yet? I think any delays are likely to be before the voter check-in, not waiting for checked-in voters to fill out their ballots, but that has happened before, and we have three ballot questions (hint: NO). If you get a chance, figure out who you want for every ticket slot beforehand.