When heading to the polls in Madison in 2012, hope for short lines and plenty of poll workers, or you could be queueing up for awhile. Statistics put together by the Madison city clerk’s office following the mock election on Tuesday showed if there are 30 people waiting to vote, you should plan on being in line for at least 32 minutes.
The mock election at the City-County Building was held to give election workers (and voters) an early look at how it will be at the polling place when 2012 elections roll around, the first elections that will implement a new voting law in Wisconsin. According to the news release from the city clerk’s office, a total of 154 voters and nine election officials took part in the three-hour mock election; 15 of those voting cast provisional ballots.
A provisional ballot means the voter didn’t have acceptable photo ID but was allowed to vote, providing proper ID is shown at the clerk’s office by 4 p.m. of the Friday following an election. Two key elements of the law, showing a photo identification card and signing the poll book, were looked at as possibly bogging down the vote. The mock election showed just how much.
Traditionally, Madison has two election officials stationed at the poll book. If that’s the case next year, voters could wait up to four minutes times the number of people in line. Under that scenario, 30 people in line means a two-hour wait.
Adding a third election official at the poll book (the listing of registered voters) to check identification cards cut the wait time by almost 75 percent down to 1:18, which would equate to a 39-minute wait.
When the poll books were split into two listings alphabetically, A-L and M-Z, the wait time dropped to 1:06 per person in line. When IDs were checked at the door instead of at the poll book table, the wait time dropped to 1:05 per person in line, or 32 minutes if 30 people are waiting.
Provisional voters spent an average of five minutes at the poll book, but the wait time also dropped dramatically when the extras were added, such as a third election official, splitting the names and checking IDs early on.