Some Observations on Early Voting

Well, for one, it seems to be very, very popular this time around. There’s a large variety in age and ancestry of voters, at least among those I observed in line. I had other business to do in one of the places that is an early-voting site, and as I walked up, one of the poll volunteers was telling people that there was at most a fifteen-minute wait, even though the line went around the corner of the building and half-way to the back parking area. Part of the reason for the length is social distancing. Part was just the large number of people. On the news the other night, both county election heads said that they’d had record turn out thus far, even taking into account the extra week.

When I got to the door of the building after easing around the voting line, one of the volunteers asked if I was there for the other business. I held up my official-looking fat envelope full of papers. She gave me a sympathetic smile and opened the door marked “Exit Only” so I could go straight into the other side of the place. Mom and Dad Red voted at the secondary county courthouse (“the Annex”), and there they have the voting tucked away in an isolated part of the facility, so there’s no contact between the courts and taxes side and the voting side. Otherwise everyone’d have to go through the metal detector or be patted down, and it would really be a frustration for all involved.

Mom and Dad said that everyone was relaxed and cheerful as they waited. No one talked politics, but a few talked religion (high school and college football). Because there is a huge bond issue ($250,000,000 plus) and two municipal propositions, they were checking ID as well as voter registration. That part went smoothly, and Mom said that everyone was given a stylus and your usual little ticket. You swap the ticket for a number and enter that into the machine. Once you finished, you put the stylus in a basket, and other volunteers scrub the styli, then send them back to be reused. This is new, and is part of making people feel more comfortable about the presumed medical safety of voting.

Another thing I had not observed before were the car-side voting boxes. If people are unable to stand in line, or for some other reason do not want to go into the buildings, election officials come out to the car, first with the ID and registration checking things, then with a special voting box.

Neither county has voting machines that talk to the internet. At least some counties out here get a coded hard-copy as well as the electronic file, so if there is a question, they can go back through the hard copy and do a hand recount. I prefer the older punch-card system, but no one asked me. That, or the big lever-action voting machines that made a satisfying “thunka” when you finished setting the switches and pulled the lever.


9 thoughts on “Some Observations on Early Voting

  1. No one talked politics, but a few talked religion (high school and college football).


    I still intend to vote on Election Day, although I admit the possibility of having my vote stolen via a phony mail-in ballot has me a bit worried.

    Sadly, I expect the senile sex predator to win. But it would be enormous fun to wake up the day after the election and hear that Trump pulled it out again.

    • Everything is fine, until the Wishbone Doctrine comes up.

      I’d prefer photo ID to vote, just like cashing a check or getting full-strength cough medicine. No such luck, yet.

  2. Oregon has had vote by mail for a couple of decades. No comments on the steady leftward tilt of politics after it got cemented in place by the voters. (IIRC, that election was also vote by mail. Hmm.)

    Still, we do the nearest equivalent of early voting. Our ballots came to our maildrop in the city on Saturday. Today, I’m going in to pick them up, we’ll fill them out tonight, and Tuesday they’ll go into the ballot dropoff box next to the county clerk’s office in the government building. Another one was damaged during a heated campaign to ban potshops in the county. It passed anyway, but we’ll only use the drop that is relatively secure.

  3. “Vote Early Vote Often”! [Sarcastic Grin]

    Of course, you can only vote often if you vote Democratic. [Second Sarcastic Grin]

  4. That reminds me….

    *goes to check polling place will actually still BE there*

    I’ve only voted in person twice in my life. I’d like to make a habit of it.
    (they took it all vote by mail for Washington while I was in; never did get a ballot)

  5. Well, it IS Texas… LOL Much the same down here, turnout for ‘early’ voting is apparently going to exceed the TOTAL votes in 2018 mid-terms.

    • On Sunday morning, the most crowded parking lots in Tiny Town are the breakfast place and the churches.
      On Sunday afternoon? The early voting place was looking like one of the biggest churches on Easter morning.

      • As of Friday night, 20% of registered voters in the two counties around me had voted, per their election bosses. That’s a record for early voting.

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