While this party primary balloting could well have more interest/turnout than usual because of there being several contested races with fairly prominent local names engaged on the Republican side, that’s not the source of the potential problem.
Rather it is the proposed T-SLOST (a special penny of sales tax to run for 10 years for regional transportation projects).
All can vote on that and all should have an interest in it. However, even that is not the reason for this early alert.
Rather, it is because the entire list of specifically authorized projects appears destined for the Floyd County ballot resulting in it being envisioned as possibly 14 or more pages in computer-screen length. Only two actual inside-Floyd projects are actually on that list covering 15 counties, although a number named in adjoining counties are very clearly as much or more for Greater Rome’s benefit as for “them.”
Such referendum topics are always at the back end of the ballot, after all the offices being contested or refilled by acclamation. The voter’s finger is going to have to poke “Next” to bring up the following page to not read an awful, awful lot before reaching the point where they can do their yes/no and then review and submit the whole thing. That’s going to take time.
IN THE DAYS of paper, this used to be called a “bedsheet ballot.” In the voting-machine age one is going to have invent new terminology. Interminable scrolling ballot?
Unless special software is written with a “skip to end” as the referendum discussion begins, this could get quite annoying ... particularly as a lot of folks tend to skip voting on referendum questions. This one shouldn’t get skipped, by the way, and a “yes” is recommended. It’s important to the economic future of Greater Rome and this entire region.
However, whether intending to vote yes, no or not at all, this will take time as those waiting in line twiddle their thumbs given the limited number of machines at each precinct. If turnout is heavy, it could be horrible. If light or routine, simply annoying.
In any case, either vote ahead of time or reserve a few extra minutes on Election Day for doing your civic duty.
Incidentally, there will also be a major referendum question on the November general election ballot — the one authorizing the state to approve charter schools over the objection of local school boards — but that’s unlikely to be “printed” in full. Indeed, the more controversial a measure tends to be the less the state seems inclined to say about the contents on the ballot wording specified in the legislation. The transportation tax is, in theory, “local” and not statewide in nature.
HOWEVER, between this and the recent addition of voter ID checks there’s going to be a build up of time necessary to vote. That’s caused no real problems thus far but the first real test will be the presidential election this November. That always has the largest turnout once every four years.
In that case, at least, having to wait a while for one’s “turn” isn’t a bad thing of itself.
Not only are long lines denoting heavy turnout reassuring evidence that our representative form of government hasn’t expired but it is a bit of a social event. Given each precinct is geographic in formation, that is sometimes the only time every two to four years that one actually sees, and has a moment to chat, with some neighbors.
More worrisome are community neighbors who won’t ever show up. To the extent that long lines, waits and any “nuisance” involved may turn citizens off, this coming slow-motion local ballot is less of a good thing.
Nationally about 25 percent of eligible citizens — about 51 million — were not even registered for the 2008 presidential election. That means “don’t care” ran a strong third (Barack Obama got 69 million popular votes, John McCain 59 million).
Even more concerning is in that election roughly 3 million presumed Americans who were registered showed up to vote but were turned away because they didn’t have the correct paperwork with them.
SINCE THEN, some 30 states have changed their voter laws to make things tougher: identification cards, proof of citizenship, cutting back on early voting and erasing same-day registrations.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, this could cause a suppression of an additional 5 million votes this November.
That would be 8 million votes and two of the past three presidential elections were decided (in popular count) by under 5 million votes.
This is a largely Republican-driven effort and there’s no mystery as to the reason. Those affected are largely expected to be low income, minority and young voters known to “lean” toward Democrats.
Similarly it is no secret as to why U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, recently sponsored the Voter Empowerment Act. It would do the exact opposite by permitting U.S. citizens to register and update their information online — stuff like new address, name change due to marriage, etc. that can now bring polling place “challenges.”
This doesn’t have a prayer of passage in a U.S. House dominated by the GOP but does raise an important point regardless of party affiliation (or none). Voting should be encouraged, not discouraged, and ways found to eliminated and not create roadblocks.
WHETHER the possible turnoff is a very long ballot, extra waiting times or demands that those voting have a visible tattoo of an American flag on their bodies those only serve to get in the way for the long and slowly evolved intention of democratic participation: That every American should have a voice.