Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Voting in Texas Elections vs. Parental Complaints

As one who votes in every election that they will let me in the door for, I have to say I am surprised and a little miffed at a story I heard today when I went to cast my vote in the Texas Constitutional Amendment election, the only election here in Fort Bend County.

I typically go to a middle school campus that is roughly between my workplace and my residence to early vote.

It is convenient and usually the lines are short.

Today it was no different in terms of lines, there were none, but not in terms of the convenience. Upon arriving and presenting my voter registration card I was made to stand by while the elections clerk waited for his laptop PC to connect to the internet.

It took an overly long amount of time and the light that was emitted by the scanner that would scan the bar code on my registration card kept switching between red and green.

Back and forth.

We joked that maybe the kids at the school had hacked into the system – a joke that was too serious to laugh too much about these days – and finally the scanner was ready to scan my card.

Then as we were waiting for the adhesive tape to print out, again in a stutter-stop way, I was told the real reason why there was such slow service. It seems that the reception in the area of the school that the polling place was located was very poor. Poor enough to make what should have been a 10 second procedure turn into a 5 minute one.

And then I heard something that made me cringe.

“It was much better when we set up in front in the lobby.”

I replied, “That’s right, you used to have this up front near the front circle. Why did you move back here?”

[I keep forgetting not to ask questions to which I don’t want to hear the answer]

“The parents complained that we were making too much noise.”

Now I have to ask myself, what would have happened if the poor reception that the elections clerk was getting today occurred on a heavy turnout early voting day? How far out the door would the line to get in to vote have gone? How many voters would have turned back in disgust because of the horrendous wait time?

This is clearly a case of misplaced priorities. Parental complaints need to be prioritized right behind everything else when it comes to the democratic process, and any facility that provides space for citizens to cast their votes in elections needs to ensure that this space is optimal for that purpose.

Otherwise, Fort Bend County should take its business elsewhere.

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