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Elections in USA: Why are there Queues?

 
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tnickolaus



Joined: 05 Feb 2005
Location: Munich / Bavaria / Germany / Europe / Earth / Solar System / Milky Way / Universe

PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:13 pm    Post subject: Elections in USA: Why are there Queues? Reply with quote

Hi,

I'm currently watching one of Germany's main news broadcasts on TV. The main topic as everywhere else in the world: the elections in the USA.
It will be a very interesting night tonight Smile

But there is one thing I don't understand: Why are there these long queues in front of the polling places? I never saw people queuing up for hours in front of the polling places like tonight in the USA. Well, maybe except for Africa...
In Germany we have usually around 60-70% participation in elections. And elections are held on a single day (usually Sunday). In 20 years I never had to wait more than a few minutes.

So could somebody please explain this?

Thanks,
Thomas

PS: All Americans: VOTE!!
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ZombieSolo
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Joined: 05 Feb 2005

PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My guess is because there are more than just "yes" or "no" check boxes on the ballots, and people take their time reading the little summaries and deciding on the spot. I'm not sure of the procedures on international elections so I don't know how they compare.

Lots of people like myself however sign up for absentee ballots, so you can either mail in your vote or drop it off without waiting in line.

Also, I can't help but lawl @ "queues" because us 'Mericans just say "lines" Laughing
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knapplZ
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I don't know what voting in other countries is like, so I can't contrast it with voting in America. I voted today, and this was my experience:

1. Go to the check-in table. Give your name, verify your address. This takes between 30 seconds and several minutes, depending on the speed of the person checking and whether or not they have your name spelled correctly, etc. Sometimes you have to provide identification.

2. The next person gives you your ballot, explains the procedures (fill in the dot, basically) and sends you to a booth.

3. You go to your booth, read the choices and make your selections. If there are measures on the ballot that I haven't read before going to the poll I have to read them there.

4. Drop off your ballot and head out.

The delays usually come from people who read slowly, or who aren't in the proper precinct and it takes a while to figure that out sometimes.
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tnickolaus



Joined: 05 Feb 2005
Location: Munich / Bavaria / Germany / Europe / Earth / Solar System / Milky Way / Universe

PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your quick responses!
We can also send the ballot by mail when we're not at home during the elections.
But it looks like there is much more to read on your ballots. When there are elections for the government we just have the list of people and/or parties which can be elected. Not much explanation.
Only in case of public decisions there's more to read.
So I'm curious: What's written in the summaries tonight? Can the text be found on the internet?

DonSolo wrote:
Also, I can't help but lawl @ "queues" because us 'Mericans just say "lines" Laughing

At work I had some problems with some IBM MQ Series Queues today. So maybe that's why I used British English Wink
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ZombieSolo
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't find anything online, but I could take a couple pics of my sample ballot later since it's got all the same info.
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Zombie Jones
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Call me cynical, but I think that the reason that there are lines is because the polls are used to having less than half of the eligible voters particpate and simply aren't accustomed to having this many people show up to vote. I'm glad that people are voting rather than complaining and not voting in the election.

It's admirable that the turnout is apparently so high, but if there are huge problems administering this many voters, people might not be inclined to vote in the next election.
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ZombieGIR
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have also been reports of equipment failure with some of the electronic voting machines, causing backups and such. They still can't get those stupid things to work properly.
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ZombieSolo
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every election I can recall I've heard about lines at the polling places - which is why I prefer my absentee ballot. Whether or not there's a significant difference in voter turnout this time around is yet to be seen... I'm sure it will be higher than average for hte last few, but not enough to strain the system.
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ZombieAndi
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a caller at CNN right now, who said they had to wait between 4 to 7 hours, because there were only 4 voting booths.
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Zombie Jones
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My district is still using paper ballots, which is fine with me. Back in 2004, while living in a different district, I used an electronic voting machine. It was a little disconcerting because it seemed like the poll workers didn't even know how to use the thing.
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ZombieSolo
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am so very glad I've never had to wait in a line to vote.
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ZombieAthos
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Same reasons there are lines at the local McDonalds. There are probably peak times that a lot of people show up (right before or after the workday). And the press just reports on those incidents.

I imagine the lines are the exceptional cases. You aren't going to be seeing headlines in international news that "Joe Smith didn't wait at all to vote today" or "Voting is going along normally."

Steve
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TK-425
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For Americans (and interested non-Americans), try this amazing political predictions website that will be updating throughout the night. Clicky
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ZombieGIR
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At first I thought that site would predict the line lengths for certain areas. Rolling Eyes
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Iare Zombite
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Voted days ago, and glad of it... My friend got stuck in long queue and voted 15 minutes before polls closed. Whew!
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Gingerbeard Man



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Athos wrote:
Same reasons there are lines at the local McDonalds. There are probably peak times that a lot of people show up (right before or after the workday). And the press just reports on those incidents.

That's one thing I've never understood. Why does America vote on a workday? In Germany elections are held on a Sunday. Surely all that valuable time the workforce is wasting must have the capitalists spinning in their graves... Wink

As for the queues: The German news that I watched last night (must have been on ARD or ZDF?) mentioned that a lot of the really long queues were in predominantly poor areas inhabited by coloured people. They were suggesting that the current administration deliberately set up too few polling booths in these areas to discourage the people there from voting (it being fairly obvious who they would vote for). Rolling Eyes
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Count Blockula
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was absolutely no line at all when I went to vote yesterday. It was a positively painless and speedy experience. The building was actually the very same building where I used to attend elementary school as a child. And, even better, they were having a bake sale, too. Smile But, much to my dismay, they had no brownies. I was in an out of there in about 5 minutes. Had there been brownies, it would have been more like 10. Very Happy
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ZombieAthos
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gingerbeard Man wrote:

That's one thing I've never understood. Why does America vote on a workday?


I think the reason we do the first Tuesday in November has something to do with the paycheck cycles. I seem to remember being told that was the day they chose, because it was far enough after a payday, that it would be hard for employers to influence the votes by withholding with paychecks.

Does anyone know if I am [at least halfway] right?

Steve
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ZombieAndi
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Athos wrote:


I think the reason we do the first Tuesday in November


But I learned recently that it is not the first Tuesday in November, but the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
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Gingerbeard Man



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andi wrote:
But I learned recently that it is not the first Tuesday in November, but the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Interesting. The 1988 election was indeed on November 8th, not on the 1st.

It seems that 2016 is the next time the election will be on the second Tuesday in November rather than the first.
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ZombieAthos
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From wikipedia, not necessarily a reliable source, but good enough for this discussion:

Quote:
A uniform date for choosing presidential Electors was instituted by the Congress in 1845.[5] Many theories have been advanced as to why the Congress settled on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.[6] The actual reasons, as shown in records of Congressional debate on the bill in December 1844, were fairly prosaic. The bill initially set the national day for choosing presidential Electors on "the first Tuesday in November," in years divisible by four (1848, 1852, etc.). But it was pointed out that in some years the period between the first Tuesday in November and the first Wednesday in December (when the Electoral College met) would be more than 34 days, in violation of the existing Electoral College law. So, the bill was amended to move the national date for choosing presidential Electors forward to the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, a date scheme already used in the state of New York.


Steve
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Flesh Skywalker



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is the Sample Ballot for people in my neighborhood.
http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/elections/2008/gen/2008SampleBallot.pdf

Notice the issues at the end. I try to know what I am going to vote for before I get there. Saves everyone else's time. If I forget, maybe I read, it isn't necessary to vote for each position or issue.
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ZombieSolo
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a pretty good example. Thanks. I forgot to take pictures.

I still want to se how the voter turnout compared this time around.
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tnickolaus



Joined: 05 Feb 2005
Location: Munich / Bavaria / Germany / Europe / Earth / Solar System / Milky Way / Universe

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Flesh Skywalker wrote:
Here is the Sample Ballot for people in my neighborhood.
http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/elections/2008/gen/2008SampleBallot.pdf

Notice the issues at the end. I try to know what I am going to vote for before I get there. Saves everyone else's time. If I forget, maybe I read, it isn't necessary to vote for each position or issue.

Thanks for this example. Looks like it takes some time to read and understand all that ...
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Flesh Skywalker



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DonSolo wrote:
That's a pretty good example. Thanks. I forgot to take pictures.

I still want to se how the voter turnout compared this time around.


No problem Don, I know you have your hands tied, er cuffed right now.
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