Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Giving Election Day a make-over

The Sun-Times mentions that the nation's election officials are planning some sweeping changes to the way we cast our ballots: They seem to think it would be swell if we centralized the voting in each county, for example, to one or two large buildings, and extended the vote to several days.

I like the notion of allowing a few extra days for people to make their decisions, but I think there may be some problems. It seems to me, if you don't have a solid, narrow deadline for people to do something, they tend to become rather cavalier in their attitude toward the event. I did just enough teaching (in my energetic youth) to notice this pattern of behavior in both student and parent. I can see how making it a two-day event might have some practical benefit, since exit polls on day one might spur the parties to work hard on day two to bring in more people, but beyond that, it just invites chaos again.

And, while putting everything in one central location is a nice idea where you have public transportation (among city folk, or example), we out here in the boonies appreciate not having to drive all the way from the far corner of a large county, just to cast a vote for a half-addled Senator. It wouldn't affect me terribly, since I live in the county seat, but I have many friends who live either in outlying (largely impoverished) communities or on distant farms. Since fuel prices have risen so dramatically of late, and with the likelihood that it'll get even more expensive to drive our cars, will the election officials make provisions for buses or vans to go pick up & take home those people in, say, Greenbush Township 25 miles away (less as the crow flies)? What will they say about those large, mostly empty counties in the western states? Doesn't it make more sense to keep polls in those outlying communities, as well as in the county seats and population centers?

Or is this one tidy way to eliminate the rural (predominantly conservative) vote?

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