Posts Tagged ‘voting’

You Meet the Most Interesting People in a Voting Line

October 29, 2012

When I went in to early vote at the North Highland Assembly of God, which is no where near North Highland,  there was a fairly long line that kept getting longer while I was there.  The efficiency of the poll workers, however, impressively kept the line moving, and I would say it only took me 20 minutes to vote.

The thing that stood out in the “vote here” sign was the “voter I.D. required” line.  It made  me reflect on how, between 2006 and 2010, the I. D. law  failed if it had been designed to discourage minority voters.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, “Turnout among black and Hispanic voters increased from 2006 to 2010, dramatically outpacing population growth for those groups over the same period.

“On the other hand, Georgia’s top elections official could not point to a single case of ballot fraud the voter ID law had prevented.”

Backers of the law said it was needed to prevent voter fraud. Some people believe that was the real reason.  Some don’t. Judges ruling on the Georgia law believe that claim, but judges ruling on the South Carolina and Texas law don’t.

The man who stood in front of me was a Hispanic-American, a well-educated, friendly fellow who has served for fifty years as an interpreter at WHINSEC, formerly known as the School of the Americas. I would assume that he can vote for president twice if  he wants to, once for the President of the United States and once for the President of Panama. He holds joint citizenship.  You meet the most interesting people in a voting line.  It make the time pass faster, and that’s good.

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What Line?

November 4, 2008

  The long voting lines are supposed to be longest before people go to work, take lunch break, and get off from work. There was no line at all at the Wynnton precinct in Columbus, GA  at noon.  A poll worker told me about 400 people had voted at Wynnton so far, with the big crowd being this morning when the polls opened. 

  Any problems?  “The voting machines were down this morning for about 5 minutes, ”  a poll worker told me.

Voting at Wynnton United Methodist Church, Columbus, GA around noon.

Voting at Wynnton United Methodist Church, Columbus, GA around noon.

It Pays to Vote During Off-hours

November 4, 2008

  Having voted a month ago – it took me ten minutes – I didn’t have to stand in line, but I went to my polling place anyway to check out the crush of voters. No crush.  That’s because I got there about 9:30.  My polling place is St. Peter United Methodist Church, Columbus, Georgia.

  “It wasn’t bad, ” a voter told me as he was leaving. “It took about 30 minutes.”

40 a.m.

Voting line at St. Peter

  However, there was a really long line when the polls opened at 7. A poll worker told me the line went all the way out of the church and down Weems Road. Voting is always heaviest during the first couple of hours, at lunch, and between 5 and 7. It thins out during regular work hours.

  Wonder if using churches as polling places violates the United States Constitution’s separation of church and state doctrine. Probably never know the answer to that because it’s not worth the time and money for a legal test, I wouldn’t think. Nobody’s trying to tell you how to vote at the churches and the churches bristle with signs saying no political signs or campaigning allowed near the polling place. I did notice a lot of signs on the corner of Moon and Weems Roads right in front of the church, though.

The Most Important Vote You May Ever Cast

November 3, 2008

  Somehow, this election eve feels like New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow looms, possibly,  as one of the biggest days in the history of this country. That is because of the critical nature of what is happening economically in this country and the world.  

  Like you, I will be watching the returns as they come in, and I will be commenting on them. It is possible that Jim Martin could unseat Republican Saxby Chambliss, or, more likely from what I am hearing, Sen. Chambliss will not get a majority of the votes and there will be a runoff. So even if Georgia, as predicted, goes to Sen. McCain, the state could help the Democrats attain a filibuster-proof Senate. 

  An incredible lot is riding on this election, one that, as I heard pundit say on CNN, could be the most important vote you will ever cast. That’s pretty dramatic, but considering that this country is on the brink of economic calamity, which puts the world on that brink, it has a strong ring of truth.

      It may take a few hours to earn one of these “I’m a Georgia Voter” badges, but it is worth the wait, in my view.

Badge of Reponsibile Citizenship

Badge of Reponsibile Citizenship

  More tomorrow.

It’ll All be Over Tuesday Night … Maybe

November 2, 2008

 

Early voting at Columbus Public Library

Early voting at Columbus Public Library

 Finally, it will all be over Tuesday night. We will have elected a new president. That could be wishful thinking. In fact, there is the unsettling chance that it is just that. The specter of the Florida debacle in 2000 remains vivid to a lot of us. 

  Because of a record of past discrimination against African American voters, Georgia elections are still under U.S. Justice Department jurisdiction. For that reason, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, a Republican, cited that fact when Democrats requested that voting be continued over the weekend.  She said she had no right to authorize that.

   The NAACP complained to her that not enough voting machines are being placed in African American precincts to accommodate the overwhelming turnout of black voters.  Handel said she doesn’t control that; counties decide where the machines will go. 

  Batteries of lawyers are going to be placed in the polling places Tuesday, some Republicans, some Democrats, and a group of lawyers not representing either party. In other words, everybody is gearing up for a lot of legal activity which is a clue that the election outcome may very well not be known by midnight Tuesday.

  Let’s hope this one is not in doubt. Americans need to be able to trust that our elections are legitimate. Over the years there have been plenty of examples of countries that have had elections that meant nothing. They were – some still are  – ruled by dictators and/or oligarchies.  Can that happen here?

Early Voting Takes Patience

October 27, 2008

 

  I asked one man as he was leaving how long it took him to vote.

  “I got here at 12:15 this afternoon.”

  “It took you more than four hours to vote?”

  “Right. They should have had a hundred people – well, a lot more people – up there signing in people instead of the few they had.”

  But, he wanted to vote badly enough to wait that long. That’s encouraging.

Voting at Columbus Public Library

Voting at Columbus Public Library

  Hundreds of people were still standing in line at 5 p.m. closing time, but they were not waiting in vain as voting continued after 5.  

  I heard Columbus Elections Supervisor Nancy Boren telling a WRBL-TV reporter that she expects 30-thousand people to vote early this year, which is about 10-thousand more that voted early in the 2004 presidential election.

    I have been around a pretty long time and I have never seen anything like this before at election time. Maybe it’s because there is so much at stake.

Voting line at Columbus Public Library

Voting line at Columbus Public Library

Vote Early

October 26, 2008

  I am very concerned about problems at the polls in this general election. There is little doubt that we are going to see the largest voter turnout in the history of this country, which is going to put enormous pressure on the voting systems.

  We know from the debacle in Florida in the 2000 presidential election that there is a good chance that some people will not have their votes counted. This is serious business in a democratic republic like ours.

  Beyond corruption by some voting officials, there are the problems of human error, voting machine failure, voting machines that leave no independent paper trail (we have those in Georgia) and the normal problems that accompany elections. All of this will be magnified by the record voter turnout.

  Early voting is not going to solve all of these problems, but it is probably the best chance to ease them. I voted weeks ago at the Columbus Government Center. It took me about tens minutes.  A friend of mine told me it took him and his wife an hour and a half to vote there last week. He said the line not only went out into the parking garage but all the way to the end of the walkway in the garage.

  Just think what it is going to be like between Monday October 27th thru Friday, October 31st. That will probably be nothing compared to what it will be on Tuesday, November 4th, election day. Fortunately there will be four polling palces open for early voting.  Here’s the list from the Columbus Consolidated Government website:

         (No Reason Required for this Early Voting)

October 27-31 at Four Locations:

  • Elections Office, Government Center, 100 Tenth Street:     8:30am – 4:30pm
  • Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road:       9:30am – 5:00pm
  • Frank D. Chester Recreation Center, 1441 Benning Drive:   10:00am – 6:00pm
  • Cunningham Center@Columbus State University, 3100 Gentian Blvd.:    8:30am – 4:30pm

DICK’S WORLD PODCAST: Will Your Vote be Counted?

October 19, 2008

  Time for me to do another podcast. I have to do one every now and then just to make sure I remember how.

  This one is about whether you can count on your vote being properly counted.

   You can listen by clicking  podcast.

     If you haven’t voted yet, I suggest you vote early. For one thing, the lines are going to be really long on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. 

In Columbus, Georgia, you can vote early at the following places:

– Now thru October 31 at the Elections Office, West Wing, Government Center: Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-4:30pm
      
October 27-31 at Four Locations:


Elections Office, Government Center, 100 Tenth Street: 8:30am – 4:30pm

 
Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road:  9:30am – 5:00pm


Frank D. Chester Recreation Center, 1441 Benning Drive:  10:00am – 6:00pm


Cunningham Center, Columbus State University, 3100 Gentian Blvd.: 8:30am – 4:30pm

  I would say, “See you at the polls,” but I won’t because I voted weeks ago at the Government Center.

Is Georgia Purple Now?

October 2, 2008
   Republicans may be in for a surprise in Georgia on November 4th. No, Barack Obama will probably not carry the state, but it’s going to be closer than a lot of people think, says Bill Shipp in a column for the Athens Banner-Herald.  And -Shipp didn’t mention this, but I will – Jim Martin has a good chance of unseating Saxby Chambliss. Martin has been steadily climbing in the polls and he is only two points behind Chambliss now.

  The reason that it is going to be close is because of increased voter registration. One report has it that 300,000 new voters have been registered this year in Georgia.  Also, the state’s demographics are changing; the white majority is lessening.

  Voter turnout is expected to beat all records.

  Check out the column at this link.

Georgia Electronic Voting Machines Have a Major Glitch: No Independent Paper Trail

September 9, 2008

  Considering the history of voter fraud in its different forms, I am skeptical about the reliability of touch-screen voting machines that leave no independent paper trail. Without that trail there is really no way to conduct an honest recount when results are contested. Georgia’s machines do not leave an independent trail. In other words, they cannot be independently audited.

  The group Voter Georgia brought suit against the state calling the state’s electronic machines illegal and unconstitutional because they do not provide voters with a record that shows their votes were counted properly. A Fulton County judge ruled in favor of the state, and now Voter Georgia says it will take its case to the Georgia Supreme Court.

  Though the judge accepted the state’s claim that the machines are reliable and there have been no documented cases of fraud, all one has to do is look to Ohio to see what can happen. While Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel is satisfied with the state’s machines, the Secretary of State in Ohio  Jennifer Brenner is suing Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold, seeking damages for fraud and breach of contract. As ARS Technica reports, “The suit blames faulty software for losing votes in 11 of the 44 counties that use Premier machines.”

  Georgia’s machines were purchased from the same company.    

                                                               courtesy Georgian's for Karen Handel, Inc.

    Karen Handel, GA Sec. of State, speaking
to 2008 Skidaway Island Republican Dinner
(Photo: courtesy Georgians for Karen Handel, Inc.)
 
 Georgia’s Secretary of State Handel is not opposed to an independent paper trail but cites the multi-million dollar price tag for changing the machines as a reason for not doing anything about it. She told me recently, “It would be nice, but it’s so expensive and there are other priorities.”

  Sorry, but, in a democracy, what can take priority over making sure that our votes are properly counted, when it comes to elections? I can’t think of one.  She trusts the machines. After learning about the problems other states have had with them, and that electronic voting machines are not impervious to tampering, I am skeptical. I would be a lot more comfortable with touch-screen voting if the machines were able to be independently audited. In Georgia, they are not. The record of human behavior is clear: many people will cheat if given the opportunity, especially when it comes to obtaining and maintaining power.