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Vote Centers – Virginia 2013 Asking The Right Questions.

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Presentation on theme: "Vote Centers – Virginia 2013 Asking The Right Questions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Vote Centers – Virginia 2013 Asking The Right Questions

2 What is a Vote Center? A Vote Center is nothing more than a polling location where any voter in the jurisdiction can go to vote, regardless of the location of their residence (with the county or jurisdiction). With Vote Centers, there is no longer a “ wrong place ” to vote within the jurisdiction.

3 Vote Centers – Democracy or Disaster? Wonderful idea when done right Disastrous when done wrong

4 Advantages for Voters Voters have a better chance of knowing how to find a polling place since they can go to any Vote Center in the jurisdiction Sites are usually in major traffic locations known by voters. Since voters can vote from anywhere it significantly reduces provisional ballots (meaning more likely to be counted)

5 Advantages for Voters Voters get to vote on any and all races Initial indications are that turnout improves but this may be the “ bounce ” effect of new process. Political parties and candidates benefit by receiving updated voter information throughout the day

6 Considerations That Affect Success Laws need to be changed to allow use Gaining elected officials & legislators acceptance is necessary Training requirement is significantly increased: Train for 8 hours all in one day. Training has to be specialized rather than generalized for specific duties of Vote Center personnel.

7 Considerations That Affect Success Experience doing Early Voting is useful Use of DRE equipment is an advantage in urban areas: any location with hundreds or thousands of ballot styles is more difficult & more expensive with paper ballots but can be done with Ballot on Demand (BOD) systems. Accurately estimating equipment & supplies essential to success - failure

8 Considerations That Affect Success Logistics have to be handled differently and forces some changes in distribution of equipment & setup Use moving company or similar to transport high volumes of equipment & materials Essentially requires use of T-1 telephone connection to allow communications from Center to HQ (point is that this is more expensive)

9 Considerations That Affect Success Electronic pollbooks are key to success County HAS to have appropriate computer server network and backbone to handle the volume of computer inquiries on ED. (Server farm and multiple units) Initial costs for equipment/services to implement Vote Centers can be substantial but likely to pay for themselves

10 Warning Problems can be more significant if difficulties arise. Training & implementation difficulties can result in severe voter complications (read up on Denver ’ s experience) Vote Centers may not be appropriate or useful to smaller jurisdictions & even some larger ones

11 Something to Ponder A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

12 How Many Per Vote Center? Colorado law establishes that there must be one Vote Center per every 10,000 of population Lessons learned: Establish another Vote Center within relatively short distance from another so that if one is overflowed, nearby is available. Larimer County started with 30 Vote Centers instead of 153 precinct locations. Now uses 24 Centers

13 Numbers to consider Larimer County Colorado started Vote Centers (from 2004 & 2012): Population: 275,000 now 300,000 Registered Voters: 200,000 now 240,000 Active Voters: 160,000 now 200,000 Nearly 50% of voters use permanent mail- in balloting in 2004 Now 70% mail Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

14 Money & Budgets Initial costs can be high but savings eventually pay for most of it. Analyze the costs for: Multiple servers (server farm such as Citrix) T-1 lines Integrating ePollbooks and computers Training costs No real savings on voting equipment initially Paper will complicate your ability to do this well Ballot on Demand (BOD) systems help but will need more than you think

15 Something to Ponder You are stuck with your debt if you can ’ t budge it.

16 Design & Layout You have to design to fit your space and traffic flow of voters Traffic flow literally so Vote Centers can be found & used by voters Traffic flow of voters inside the Vote Center itself so you can handle high volumes of people voting at the same time

17 Design & Layout Factors: Size of facility Location of facility Adequate parking for high volumes – at least 80 vehicles at one time Square footage important minimum 1,500sf to 3,000sf Space Configuration Compliant and friendly for voters with access needs:parking & inside space

18 Technology Needed T-1 lines purchased and installed – test and re-test with computers to assure working Computers – Vote Center stations (get all the old county computers turned in for newer computers and use the older in Vote Center.) And then cycle out the “ old ” old and next election cycle use “ new ” old

19 Technology Needed Make sure ePollbooks can be used quickly – modify to assure quick response – use reduced VR data. Processing large numbers of voters has to be done quickly. Servers and More Servers – Has to be able to handle the volumes. Backups to backups so never down.

20 Added Benefits When voter arrives at ePollbook, he/she is given instant credit for voting on the master pollbook at HQ. Allows election staff to monitor Vote Center operations from HQ & to determine, from a central location, what is needed in the form of supplies, ballots, etc. at the various locations

21 Poll Watchers Benefit Allows for poll watching to be simplified. Electronic list of all who have and have not voted is developed for all precincts every 2 hours & sent electronically to any campaign requesting the information. Campaign or party “ GOTV ” efforts immediately enhanced rather than having all scattered throughout to gather the information.

22 Something to Ponder If you don ’ t pay your exorcist, you can get repossessed.

23 Stations in Vote Center Greeter Computer Station Provisional Table Ballot Table Voting Exit

24 Training, Training, and more Training Pollworkers trained for SPECIFIC tasks rather than general functions. All are trained for 3 hours in the morning beginning at 8 a.m. and then spend the afternoon being trained for the specific function they are to handle

25 Problems: Spelled D I S A S T E R Denver Colorado 2006 Douglas County Colorado 2006 However: successes in: Several Colorado counties Lubbock, Texas, Henderson, Nevada Indiana (pilot projects) And others: See Professor Bob Stein at Rice University:

26 Something to Ponder Local Area Network in Australia: The LAN down under

27 Q & A Questions? Comments? Presentation by Doug Lewis, Executive Director, The Election Center, Houston, Texas. 281-293-0101

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