The popularity of early voting has really increased with time with an ever increasing number of registered voters. County registrar Dan Burk told me during the first year for early voting in 1996, his office recorded 1,200 total early voters. In the last general election in 2008, there were 100,000 early voters. Although the number of registered voters is off this year, the numbers of early voters is expected to increase again.
One of the biggest reasons for the increased popularity for early voting is it is convenient for voters to go to one of the early voting stations and not have to go to a polling place near their home. The voter can get off work and go to an early voting site near their work or almost anywhere they are located; the early voting sites are that convenient.
I worked one of the sites on Saturday. Everyone who voted expressed their approval of the process. There was no waiting for the most part and if there was, it was a short four- or five-person line at most. Most people seemed to be very conscientious about their voting in that they had worked through their sample ballot and had it with them as they came to vote. Some people had cut off the half of the page where their printed name appears and that was helpful, but a good many of the people didn’t realize that the bar code on the page half next to it was a bar code with all their information. They left that part home. Polling place workers can use that bar code and it does speed up the process quite a bit. If voters don’t have their bar code it isn’t necessary, but it does expedite the process.
There are 13 early voting sites plus the registrar’s office. The times of operation of the polling sites can be found in voter’s sample ballot as well as the addresses for the various polling sites.
The early voting I observed went smoothly. One voting machine malfunctioned and the manager of the polling site called in a troubleshooter from the registrar’s cadre of troubleshooters. The machine was sealed so that no further voting could take place on that machine, but those votes already cast on that machine will be retrieved and counted. In a matter of 15 minutes, the replacement voting machine was set up and in operation with no disruption to any of the other voters.
In the final analysis, the registrar’s office people are doing an excellent job of addressing all the needs and concerns of the voters and from what I saw, it looks like this is going to be a very smooth election season for all.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.