Opinion

Do the math, don’t wait in line to vote on election day

Vote in NYCMuch has been written about the interminable length of time voters in some counties had to wait in line in the 2012 election.

There will always be elections where voters are going to have to wait in long lines. Why? It’s simple arithmetic. With numerous candidates running for office at the federal, state and local levels, and various proposed constitutional amendments, judicial candidates and local ballot issues demanding voters’ attention, it inevitably adds up to a very long ballot.

Many citizens will take the time to study the ballot in advance so they can make quick decisions in the voting booth. However, at the other extreme, many, many people do not even scan the ballot before they get into the booth and, of course, due to their lack of familiarity with the issues and the candidates at hand, it slows down the process.

So how can we preserve the right to vote and avoid long lines? The simple answer is for citizens to vote by absentee ballot.

The advantages of absentee voting are readily apparent. You can request the ballot in advance of the election, even weeks ahead of time. You can study the ballot, the candidates and the issues as long as you want to make sure you make the right choices. You can ask anyone to help you in your decision-making. It only costs the price of one or two first-class stamps to mail it in, and — here’s where it gets tricky — you don’t have to wait in line to exercise your right to vote.

Many years ago, the only way you could obtain an absentee ballot was to call your local supervisor of elections to say you were going to be out of town. But that law was changed to allow anyone, for any reason, to request an absentee ballot.

In fact, with absentee voting by all, early voting would be a thing of the past. Everyone could simply vote by mail. So when the folks on the left try to tell you citizens are being disenfranchised, don’t believe it for a minute.

Because no one makes anyone wait in line. Those who wait choose to do so.

MustShowIDToVote
Photo credit Texas Tribune

I can even predict right now that in 2016, there will be more citizens voting than in 2014, because it will be another presidential election year. So if we know more voters turn out in presidential elections, why should I feel bad that people have to wait an extra-long time to vote?

As for picture IDs, the do-gooders and the U.S. Justice Department tells us requiring identification is an unfair practice. The feds say poor people don’t have picture IDs. Well, they had to show a picture ID to be eligible to receive their welfare checks, didn’t they?Local supervisors are the ones actually conducting elections and, just like any other profession, some are good at their jobs and some are not.

The good ones test their equipment in advance, intensely train their precinct workers for all possible problems, have precincts in convenient places for citizens to vote, tell the voters the correct address for the precincts, and don’t lose ballots. They even have contingency plans in case precinct workers get sick or get a flat tire on the way to the polling place.

The bad ones, and we know who they are, they don’t run a smooth operation.

What about the ones who routinely lose ballots? How does that happen?

Just don’t try to blame the governor, secretary of state or the Legislature if your election goes awry because your local supervisor didn’t do her or her job properly.

If these line-waiting citizens don’t have the money for postage, why don’t we just provide them with postage-paid envelopes to mail their ballots in? It would sure be cheaper than buying more machines.

Barney Bishop

Barney Bishop III is the president and chief executive officer of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance, a statewide coalition of organizations committed to changes that make communities safer, save the taxpayers money and hold offenders accountable while helping them learn to live law-abiding lives.

The opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of BizPac Review.

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