Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Voting hell in Sumter County…

If I were the Supervisor of Elections in Sumter County Florida, I would have little reason to be pleased with the voting process in a number of precincts.

In fact, if the long lines and wasted time for voters and poll workers at Coconut Cove in The Villages is any example, I would go into hiding for awhile.   I expect long lines during a presidential election, but I would expect long lines to move quickly.  These lines did NOT move quickly.  There is NO good excuse for the gridlock that the logistical failures produced.

The bottleneck was this:  There was only one scanner – an inferior, balky scanner - at this particular precinct, and at most precincts, as I understand it. 

Throughout the day the line of people waiting for their ballots to be scanned after completing their ballots filled the length of the 40 foot long room – 25 to 30 people long.  Once you waited outside in line for an hour and a half, and once you completed your ballot, you had another half in another line waiting to get your ballot scanned.  Sure, there were plenty of poll workers to assure proper ID and registration and plenty of booths for voters to mark their ballots.   But just one scanner that worked very slowly and very poorly – spitting back out half of the ballots that were fed to it.  That performance of that scanner was poor enough to make any thinking person believe that some government officials somewhere made a lot of money on that scanner contract.  I am convinced that there was no award to the lowest and BEST bid on that piece of crap excuse for a ballot scanner.

In fact the scanner created such a bottleneck that there were repeated half hour periods of time throughout the day when the  5 or 6 poll workers at the ID check in tables were not allowed to process voters because they had to wait for the line waiting for the scanner to shorten – they had to sit and twiddled their thumbs while a line of 100 people or more waited outside for the scanner line to clear out.  All because of the one crappy scanner.  If they had two or three crappy scanners at each polling place, things would have run much more efficiently.  Or if they had one scanner that didn’t act like it had indigestion with its incessant belching of paper back at ya the lines would have moved much faster.

I am wondering how many hundreds of elderly potential voters in just this precinct alone decided not to vote because of the long and unacceptably slow lines caused by the ill conceived logistics.

So, my assessment of the voting operation is this:

1)  The selection of scanners was ill advised; inferior scanners were chosen for whatever reason, and

2) The planners for this election should be familiar with the capabilities of the equipment they have on hand to perform the job.  Assuming that they were, there is no excuse for having just one crappy scanner at each precinct.  It created an unacceptable and wasteful bottleneck.

Except for this screw-up, the poll workers were great and the voters remained in mostly good spirits.  But the Supervisor of Elections responsible for this wasteful fiasco imposed way too much on the patience of the voters and really ought to know how to administer an election a lot better.  I will keep this experience in mind the next time I have an opportunity to consider a new person for that position.

Below are photos of the lines outside of this precinct.  The first is at 11:00 am; the second is t 6:30 pm.  The line is not long because of the volume of voters.  It is long because of the inexcusable bottleneck created by the scanning process.


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