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Thinking Outide the Ballot Box

Polling Place Innovations: League of Women Voters Points to Election Modernization

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ — The League of Women Voters today issued a report on innovative polling place practices. The league’s report, entitled “Thinking Outside the Ballot Box: Innovations at the Polling Place,”  (pdf) highlights some of the ways that elections officials are making it easier for voters to cast their ballots this year.

Across the country, elections officials are changing the way Americans vote. Some of the changes — such as early voting and the use of vote centers — are dramatic and obvious. Others are more subtle, involving new technologies and changes in the procedures used to get voters in and out of the polling place.

“Innovations in polling place management are among the most critical reforms,” according to Mary G. Wilson, national league president. “We hope that these stories about polling place innovations will spur all elections officials to think creatively about how to make voting easier for the American voter,” Wilson said.

“We are still voting the same way we did 150 years ago, and we don’t live that way any more,” said Scott Doyle, who manages elections in Larimer County, Colo. After analyzing voting patterns and the needs of voters in his county, Doyle developed “vote centers” for his county. Larimer County replaced its 143 polling places with 31 full-service vote centers where anyone in the county can vote.

“Modernization is essential,” according to Wilson. “We need these new approaches to bring more convenience to the voting process and to help boost voter participation,” she said. “Long lines and confusion at the polls must become relics of the past,” she said.

Additional examples in the league report include 1) “early voting” in Clark County, Nev., where more than 40,000 residents cast their ballots before Election Day at a popular shopping center; 2) “electronic poll books” in Seminole County, Fla., which eliminated the use of paper poll books and connected polling places to the voter registration database; and 3) “uniformity and statewide standards” in Georgia, which looked to Kennesaw State University for assistance in technology testing and elections official certification.

“Elections officials are taking a fresh look at how they do their work,” said Wilson, “and that should pay off for voters and poll workers alike.” The league’s report, entitled “Thinking Outside the Ballot Box: Innovations at the Polling Place,” can be found on the league’s Web site at http://www.lwv.org.

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