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Voting Pains

Election Day was exciting for some, but a stressful waiting game for others. Staff writer Scott Novak expresses his voting frustrations and how the problem can be solved.

I almost didn’t vote this election. It wasn’t because I don’t care about politics or that I was just too busy to take the time to vote. It wasn’t that I wasn’t registered to vote – I registered months ago. It wasn’t that I didn’t request my absentee ballot from the Harford County Board of Elections in Maryland – I requested my ballot twice, two months before the election.

Basically, the reason I almost didn’t vote was due to the inefficiencies of America’s voting system. My first absentee ballot request was never processed. Although my absentee ballot was eventually sent after a second request, it didn’t arrive until two days before Election Day, forcing me to overnight my ballot back to Maryland so that it would arrive on time.

A friend of mine wasn’t so lucky. She requested her absentee ballot weeks in advance, too, but received it in the mail Nov. 7 – the day after Election Day.

I witnessed even more problems with the voting system on Nov. 6. I was tabling for the Joe Saunders campaign in precincts 307 and 308 in district 49 from 3 p.m. until the polls closed at 7 p.m. Around 5:30 p.m., an older woman was walking back to her car, and I thanked her for voting. “Voting?” she said. “I wish I could, but there’s no way that I can stand in that line any longer.” She looked like she was about to cry.
Unfortunately, the voting line in precinct 307 grew so long that some people had to wait over two hours to vote (which is a relatively short period of time when compared to Miami-Dade County, where some voters had to wait over six hours).

I and the others tabling with me tried to tell people that waiting that long in line to vote would be worth it, but many people skeptically returned to their cars and drove out of the parking lot without casting their vote. And in truth, I couldn’t blame them for not voting. If I was sixty years old, or if I had a job, or if I had a family, I’d be much less inclined to wait in a line for two hours on a Tuesday when I didn’t even get off work.

Ironically, after cutting Florida early voting days roughly in half from two weeks to eight days, Governor Rick Scott ordered a voting process review concerning the long lines at the polls, lines that he helped lengthen. Voting shouldn’t be this hard. The early voting season must be extended in the future to accommodate the needs of the American people. Absentee ballots shouldn’t be getting lost in the mail, and if they do, there should be a way to vote online if your ballot has not arrived in time.

Furthermore, the mapping out of voting precincts needs better planning. While the line at precinct 307 was heinously long, there was no line in precinct 308 at all. It should be noted that the polling places in these precincts were directly across the street from each other. Given the complications that many voters have to deal with in order to cast their vote, it is no wonder that such a small percentage of the American population take part in this civic duty.

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