Problem at the polls

Several issues identified with polling station in Penticton

Thank you to all the volunteers working on Saturday’s election. Emotions can run high in a voting situation. It’s tough to field complaints all day, so good job.

Several years ago I was involved in the voting industry developing touchscreen and scan devices similar to the Diebold system used in Penticton, and I was involved closely with the process during several elections. I am no longer involved in this industry. I have a few complaints regarding the polling location in Penticton.

First, with only one polling station, many people had to drive to get there. When I voted, around 10 a.m., the parking lot was a logjam. It took me 15 minutes to get out, and the traffic circle was clogged with people trying to get in. I wonder how many people decided to vote later and never got around to it, or decided not to vote at all because it was too busy. A city the size of Penticton can certainly have more than one polling station.

Second, the layout of the voter’s booths was not private enough. Several of the check-in lineups extended past the voter’s booths (there was no barrier) such that you could end up being in the lineup and directly beside a voter.

Third, it was not clear that there were some lineups that could not register new voters. I waited in a lineup for 10 minutes, only to be told they could not register me. I was pointed to the line directly beside me, which by that time had grown to over 15 people. The explanation I received was that some voters think they’re not on the registered voters list, but in fact are. This makes sense, but there could have been several tables clearly marked “New registrations.” Voters who were unsure could choose those lines.

Fourth, the thick permanent marker left no room for error. I wonder if voters with fine motor difficulty had a hard time filling in the circle correctly. It also bled through the paper, meaning that with the ballot upside down, one could determine who you voted for (I’m not accusing anyone of doing this, I’m just saying it’s an issue).

Civic voting is an important responsibility and privilege. The polling station(s) should provide convenience and privacy to make the process as painless as possible. In my opinion, things could have been done better.

Keith MacIntyre

 

Penticton

 

 

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