Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election 2008: Lunchtime at Trinity Church

We're five hours and about 350 votes in. Things have been going smoothly for this volume. At the same time, the problems that have come up exemplify the grassroots nature of the voting process. As Jill Lepore discussed in the New Yorker, the voting process in this country has been largely decided on a local level, which explains the sometimes haphazard feel. There are lots of cases where the poll workers need to confer with each other; so it's understandable when voters are confused. Some of the most popular confusing situations for Boro District 1 are:

1. Voters come to the wrong district. Princeton dorms are divided into 3 districts. This would be fine if it weren't for the fact that some of the district lines cut through dorms. Voters in South Baker, Forbes, and 1981 Hall could be in either District 1 of the Borough or District 12 of the Township.

2. Voters who swear they've registered aren't on the books. This is usually due to some missing piece of information on their registration form. In one case, a student's registration form didn't have the date when he filled it out. Others have filled out registration forms that have been handled by someone else (ie a student group) who may not have submitted the forms properly. Lesson learned: make sure your registration went through soon after you registered.

3. Voters who are from NJ never registered at Princeton because they believe that their registration transfers. Unfortunately, voting is handled on a county basis in this state and you must be registered in Mercer to vote in Mercer.

4. People have received incorrect directions on their sample ballots. For instance, people who should be voting in district 12 have been told to go to district 1.

The number one asked question so far has been "Do you have 'I voted' stickers?" The answer - because this state is poor - is no.