Voters have a right to expect good customer service when they go to vote. And that means full service—not just fast service. Therefore, speed isn’t the number one goal for election administrators. First and foremost, elections need to meet legal obligations, says Merle King, executive director of the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, in Georgia. Boiled down, these obligations include running accurate elections in which all eligible voters can vote. Where does that leave customer service values such as convenience and speed? These are still important, judging by recent activity. For instance, President Obama has established a bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration, with a goal of improvinig voters’ experiences, and several pieces of federal legislation have been introduced, although none appear to be moving. In addition, reports and recommendations on election management are pouring forth.
- “Fixing That:” Lines at the Polling Place, by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt
- How to Fix Long Lines, from the Brennan Center for Justice
- Waiting to Vote in 2012, by MIT professor Charles Stewart III (which puts the nationwide average wait time at under 10 minutes)
- The Elections Performance Index, from the Pew Charitable Trusts
Customer service lies primarily in the bailiwick of local election officials. And yet, lawmakers can encourage or mandate adjustments to law that help administrators run voter-friendly elections. Some of these ideas are big ones that address much more than just polling place management issues; we’ll start with these. After that, we’ll review targeted ideas on: finding and training poll workers, getting information to voters, and reducing lines.
Full Article: The Canvass April 2013.