Report on Need for Emergency Paper Ballots! (touch screen counties)

If you are in a touchscreen county, please read this and pass it on. The report explains the need for emergency paper ballots. Our state recommended them to touchscreen counties in 2006, but we need to ask again.

Must Read Report on Need for Emergency Paper Ballots! Avoid Disenfranchisement in 2008
Dr. William Edelstein & Save Our Votes have issued an EXCELLENT five page report titled “How can we prevent long lines from disenfranchising voters in this year’s election?”

Dr. Edelstein, a physicist applied the queuing theory to voting and shows why long lines are likely. For example, queuing shows that “a voting time of 6.3 minutes would cause wait times longer than 2 hours in nearly all precincts.”

Together Edelstein and Save Our Votes make the compelling argument for emergency paper ballots this November 4, and provide a point by point rebuttal to all the objections to emergency paper ballots. Additionally, the report gives specific suggestions for how and when to give out the emergency ballots and addresses cost, logistics and security. If you are in a jurisdiction or state that uses touch screen voting machines, then we strongly urge you to forward this report to your election officials and request emergency paper ballots.

From the report

“How can we prevent long lines from disenfranchising voters in this year’s election?”
…The 2004 and 2006 general elections in Maryland were accompanied by very long lines, with voters in some locations waiting for hours to vote. Many left without voting and were thereby disenfranchised. This year’s hotly contested presidential race is expected to cause a record turnout at the polls in November.

“The formation of polling place lines depends on the interplay among thenumber of voters, the number of voting machines, and the time each votertakes to vote. It is a process similar to that which occurs on highwaysduring rush hour. Traffic flows smoothly as long as traffic density islow. As volume increases, traffic gradually slows until, at someconcentration, it locks up and cars accumulate into long lines that can take hours to clear.

Physicist William Edelstein has applied mathematical queuing simulation to voting dynamics in Maryland. Dr. Edelstein studied an averageprecinct with 10 voting machines and 1500 actual voters (a turnout of75%). He found that if each voter takes an average of 4.6 minutes tovote, all precincts will have wait times of more than 15 minutes at somepoint during Election Day and 0.1% of precincts will experience waittimes of more than an hour.

But small variations in voting times can cause large changes in wait times. An average voting time of 5 minutes would mean that 10% ofprecincts would have a wait time of more than an hour at some pointduring the day, and a voting time of 6.3 minutes would cause wait timeslonger than 2 hours in nearly all precincts.”

North Carolina Elections: September is Voter Registration Awareness Month

The Bladen Journal reports today that this is September is Voter Awareness Month in North Carolina. This is an effort to eduate voters about the registration process in time for the November election. Voters should register now. If already registered, voters they should check to make sure their registration information is correct in order to avoid problems on election day.

September is Voter Awareness Month
Folks urged to register for November elections
Thursday, August 28, 2008 1:03 PM CDT

Erin Smith, Staff Writer ELIZABETHTOWN — Gov. Mike Easley has declared the month of September as Voter Registration Awareness Month and the Bladen County Board of Elections is trying to get the message to all voters— if you are not registered to vote and want to vote in the November general election, now is the time to do so.

…In order to be eligible to vote, a person must turn 18 years old by the date of the general election; you have to be registered to vote 25 days before the election; must be either a naturalized U.S. citizen or a native-born U.S. citizen; and you must give your physical address and your mailing address, if the two are different.

Voters who register will be mailed a registration card with their information and voting precinct on it.

Those looking to register can also go online to the state board of elections Web site at www.sboe.state.nc.us and print out and complete the form and mail it in. Other registration locations where folks can register include the DMV; social services offices; the library; or at their high school.

What if you have moved, had a name change or want to change party affiliation? You can use the North Carolina Voter Registration Application/ Change of Information Form found at the State Board of Elections website or just give your county Elections office a call with any questions.

“We can’t make changes to your voter registration without a written signature of the voter,” said Hammond.Voters needing to make changes to their registration may call or come by the board of elections office and make the necessary changes before the election. All changes to existing voter registration records must be made no later than Nov. 1, according to Hammond.

What about people who have been convicted of a felon and who have served their time, can they vote?

“There has been a lot of interest lately about people with felony convictions and voting,” said Hammond.Once a person is removed for a felony and has completed all punishments, paid fines, and has been released by the court, in the state of North Carolina, their citizenship rights are restored, according to Hammond. However, they will need to re-register to vote and will need to bring with them a paper from the court stating they have been released, said Hammond.

Other opportunities to register to vote:

In Person Registration at early voting sites. A North Carolina resident who is qualified to register to vote may register In-Person and vote at a One-Stop Site in the person’s county of residence during the One-Stop Absentee Voting period. The One-Stop Voting period extends from 19 to 3 days before Election Day.

The process is sometimes referred to as “In-Person Registration,” but it is important to recognize that it not permitted on Election Day itself.

To use this process, a citizen must (1) go to a One-Stop Voting Site in the county of residence during the One Stop Absentee Voting period, (2) fill out a voter registration application, and (3) provide proof of residency by showing the elections official an appropriate form of identification with the citizen’s current name and current address. The new registrant may vote ONLY at a One-Stop Absentee Voting Site in the county of registration during One-Stop Absentee Voting period and not on Election Day.

More information on “in person” registration at the State Board of Elections webiste here

North Carolina Early Voting Sites – prescription for success for the 2008 Presidential Election

What does it take to make early voting a success in North Carolina? More early voting sites? Checking your registration? It is getting to be that time again and advocacy groups are pressing for additional early voting sites so as to avoid long lines and/or bottlenecks. What does it take to enfranchise the most voters?

General Election – Nov. 4
Last day to register to vote: 10/10
Mail-In Voting: 9/15 – 10/28
One Stop Reg. and Voting: 10/16 – 11/1
Click here for Candidate List

We really don’t know how many sites we will need when the November election roll around, but of course, we want to be prepared. The question is – what is the best plan of action and what are our options? How many sites are enough?

More does not mean better:

The whole purpose of early voting sites is defeated if they aren’t run efficiently. The biggest challenge will be to staff early voting sites, according to several election directors around the state. Well run sites with good parking are key. Adding more sites, if you can’t adequately staff them, makes matters worse for the voters. Shortages of poll workers lead to frustrated voters, long delays, and confusion. More volunteers are desperately needed to work the early voting sites. The average age of a poll worker is 72. It is time for more people to step in.

It is up to concerned citizens to volunteer to work at the polls. The only way our democracy can truly work is by turning concern into action and becoming part of the solution. Helping voters and assisting elections officials is a simple, supportive and paid way to do this. Interested citizens should contact their County Board of Elections right away to volunteer.

Voters can streamline the process by checking now to see that they are properly registered and that their information is up to date. This information is available on the State Board of Elections website or can be verified with you county elections office.

First time voters should always bring some sort of identification with them just in case. Take along any valid photo I.D., a utility bill, or government document addressed to you when you vote. Even if you aren’t a first time voter, it helps to bring ID. When you do vote, bring a friend or neighbor.

NCVV notes:

Without volunteers (they do get paid though), the Board of Elections cannot run one stop sites. About 1/3 of all votes in NC are cast early, the rest are cast on election day. Waiting time is much shorter on election day when voting at your precinct but you don’t have a second chance to correct faulty registration information as you would during early voting.

Early voting offers a bigger choice of voting times, but longer waiting, as there are fewer sites serving more people. During early voting, people can register to vote if they have not already done so. If you decide to vote early, then you may be able to reduce your wait by going earlier in the day. GOTV efforts should consider this as well, to reduce bottle necks that occur when everyone waits until the end of the day.

Find answers to your questions about voting at the North Carolina State Board of Elections website . To volunteer to be a poll worker contact your County Boards of Elections .