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Using Crowdsourcing To Design More Accessible Elections

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the two-votes-are-better-than-one dept.

The Internet 147

An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Election Assistance Commission is sponsoring an online, open innovation challenge to search for creative answers to the question: 'How might we design an accessible election experience for everyone?' The goal is to develop ideas for how to make elections more accessible to everyone, especially people with disabilities."

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147 comments

New electron designs via crowdsourcing? (2)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936667)

Finally, a positive news story.

Re:New electron designs via crowdsourcing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936811)

Finally, a positive news story.

Wouldn't inherently be negative???

Re:New electron designs via crowdsourcing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936923)

Quit putting your spin on this story.

Easy is easy (4, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936689)

What is much harder is to make it both easy to vote and make it difficult to cast a fraudulent vote. Preventing fraud is an important consideration as more and more elections in the US are decided by razor thin margins, well within the margin of being decided by fairly trivial fraud.

Re:Easy is easy (2, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936721)

and make it difficult to cast a fraudulent vote

Especially when special interests say that even being asked to present a photo ID at your poling place is racist vote suppression. Hard to fight THAT sort of nonsense.

Re:Easy is easy (3, Informative)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936801)

Its not as much nonsense as you make it out to be. Look at the statistics for low income families and their ability to get proper identification.

Re:Easy is easy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936925)

The states that want identification to vote are usually giving away free identification in-order to avoid being label as being anti-poor or having a "polling tax." If the poor don't have time to get a free ID during some part of the year, I don't think I want them voting.

We don't need more voter we need better informed ones regardless of the number of voters.

Re:Easy is easy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937055)

They aren't giving it away. You still have to provide numerous documentation, which makes for an onerous requirement for some, especially the elderly.

Re:Easy is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937441)

Yes, but without proper documentation we won't know if they are legal eligible to vote. Look, if you want to let someone into your home to "inspect your cable" without any ID or even a shirt that has the cable companies name on it that's your preoperative but don't force me to let them in.

Re:Easy is easy (3, Informative)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38939049)

Yes, but without proper documentation we won't know if they are legal eligible to vote.

Yet somehow we survived as a country without such requirements in the past.

But unfortunately, elections in this country are decided by who doesn't vote. And conservatives (i.e. Republicans) have recognized they they are the one who win when people don't vote. So they make it difficult for people who vote for Democrats to vote. That would be the poor, primarily. The primary attributes that poor people have in common are frequent address changes. So the "voter ID" laws are designed to disenfranchise anyone who has changed their address within a year of the election. You do that by putting the registration deadlines as early as possible. You have to show an ID to register, and if your address has changed by the election, you won't be able to vote. Especially because the Republicans are printing flyers threatening arrest if you show up with invalid ID.

Similarly, they disenfranchise students by making a gun registration form acceptable ID, but a student ID is not.

And, if course, that guy living in a doorway on main street isn't going to have valid ID even though he is as elligible to vote as the Mayor is. Maybe moreso, because if the mayor is a Republican, he's probably a felon.

Re:Easy is easy (1)

SirAstral (1349985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936935)

Identification Cards should be provided for Free (once per year) and paid for by taxes. This does not mean free DL's.

Ensuring that a person voting is a citizen should not be such a problem. After all, the very people you say it will cause an issue for manage to get a lot of other things that require identification such as bank accounts, rental accounts, vehicles, and rental property.

If you lack the capability to obtain identification in today's society then I would submit that such a person should not be voting due to diminished faculty to begin with! Such people should not be participating in the direction any country should be heading.

Re:Easy is easy (2)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38939083)

Identification Cards should be provided for Free (once per year) and paid for by taxes.

And if a person has moved since their free ID card was provided they lose their right to vote? How about people that don't have an address? Do they lose their right to vote? How about students? What address does their ID say? Do they have any choice in where they vote? How about people whose birth certificate has errors, or the electronic record for their birth has errors. Who pays the price for rectifying those errors. How about people who have changed their names? How about people who haven't changed their names but use their middle name as their first name on every record but their birth certificate? How about people who have multiple addresses? How do you handle their choice of voting district. Personally I think you shouldn't be voting due to inability consider the consequences of your actions.

Re:Easy is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936995)

I hear this come up a lot... just how do people function without photo ID? You can't drive, open a bank account, travel to another country, or even buy a beer.

If someone doesn't drive, states still offer non-driver ID cards pretty cheap ($13 for 9 years for regular people, $6.50 for 10 years if you're 62+ or on SSI, free if you are 62+ and SSI in NY).

Further, if you are on Medicaid (food stamps only doesn't require photo ID), your picture is on your state issued card.

How many people truly can't afford one of the above? Wouldn't it be cheaper to make IDs free for the poor and/or set up a non-profit charity to provide them than has been spent trying to lobby against photo voter ID?

The real reason is much simpler, it's harder to vote early and vote often if you require photo ID. Likewise, given that there are more white people on welfare than black people on welfare, where does the racism charge come from, other than just a blanket term that simply means "I do not like your politics and wish to slander you in a most harmful way rather than actually debate your ideas?"

Re:Easy is easy (1, Informative)

Stone Rhino (532581) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937443)

Individual voter fraud is extremely rare. The sort of fraud that would be prevented by photo ID is almost nonexistent. [brennancenter.org] On the other hand, the requirement to obtain a photo ID excludes a nontrivial percentage of the population, and creates an additional burden that falls disproportionately on poor and/or nonwhite voters [businessweek.com] . Voters who usually vote democratic, making this a partisan issue.

Much more likely than fraud by individuals is a systematic effort to exclude voters unlikely to vote for your party, and the usage of methods to purge legitimate voters from the rolls [brennancenter.org] , add additional hurdles (the modern poll test), or gerrymander districts so voting doesn't work at all.

It's not a "special interest" to want democracy to work for everyone, not just the well off.

Re:Easy is easy (2)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937673)

Where I live there are buses that pick up homeless / projects residents, and then go from precinct to precinct voting.

Re:Easy is easy (0)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938307)

Says you. If it's true, why hasn't it been stopped? You just need to get one honest person on the bus and the jig is up?

But it's not true...

Fraud? (3, Insightful)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937751)

I don't know how prevalent individual voter fraud is.... but I've always been a little skeptical of the claim that it's nearly non-existent, since our current election procedures are incapable of detecting it.

In other news, I've discovered that there's no such thing as poor people, because if I close my eyes real tight when riding through downtown I never see any poor people - so clearly there aren't any!

Voter-ID (3, Informative)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937659)

special interests

You need to drill down into the history behind the issue. Conservatives are easier to motivate to vote, and almost only vote Republican. Groups that are easy to discourage (young, black, poor) tend to overwhelmingly vote Democrat. High turn-out elections favour Democrats, low turn-out elections favour Republicans.

Hence the Republican powers-that-be tend to (quite rightly) see voter registration drives, "Rock The Vote", "Vote or Die", as a pro-Democrat mechanism. So they push back by making voting more difficult. Hell, I saw a conservative editorial recently describing voter-registration drives and anything that encourages voting as "anti-democratic".

Hence the push for voter-ID systems. And it polls well with non-Republicans, as an anti-fraud measure, making it easy to hide their real intent. (Along with less publicised anti Voter Registration Drive measures, like making it effectively illegal to hand out voter registration forms, etc.)

Here in Australia, we have mandatory voting (well, mandatory turning-up-and-getting-your-name-crossed-off, you can still leave your ballot blank). There's a $50 fine for non-voting, although it's apparently easy to get out of. And we have over 95% turnout at Federal and State elections. The left-wing party supports mandatory voting, the right-wing party opposes it. For exactly the same reasons, and with each using exactly the same poll-friendly lies to defend their positions.

This is all part of the long and nasty history of efforts to keep the "wrong" group from voting.

Re:Voter-ID (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938967)

You're over-thinking this. The urge by (often conservative) lawmakers to have their local elections only available to legitimately registered, living local people who will only be voting once, as themselves, is a response to large, organized operations by highly politicized (and avowedly left-leaning, we-don't-like-Republicans) groups that have a habit of conducting massive registration fraud. Conducting it, tolerating it, encouraging it, and sometimes getting in deep legal trouble for doing so.

Republicans don't want fewer people voting. They want fewer BS votes, especially in the face of highly organized BS voter registration paperwork submitted, over and over again, by Democrat activist groups. The "real agenda" is simple accountability. And that is why it "polls well." Because people are tired of the lack of it.

Re:Easy is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936725)

Take a look at Brazil.

Ballot stuffing is very rare. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936797)

Ballot stuffing (or even voting two or more times) is very rare.
So rare as to be a non-issue. Despite claims to the contrary.

Most attempts at "fixing" the "voter fraud" issue are really aimed at making it more difficult for people to vote. They have to jump through more hoops so they might not be able to afford it in time or money (or both). Meanwhile, the people with the extra time and money CAN jump through the hoops (after all, they determined what those hoops would be). So the only "legit" voters are the people who are already prosperous under the existing system.

So it is just a way to maintain the status quo.

Anyway, on to improving the system.

1. How about extending "election day" to more than a single day?

2. And how about including a national holiday in that period? Move Presidents Day so that it falls in the middle of "Voting Week". Or the end. Or the beginning. Or even on "Election Day" if you don't want to add more days. Yay! Holiday! Get out and VOTE!

Re:Ballot stuffing is very rare. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937081)

"Ballot stuffing (or even voting two or more times) is very rare.
So rare as to be a non-issue. Despite claims to the contrary."

Except, of course, when it isn't. LBJ would have never held office, had it not been for ballot box stuffing. And he's not the only one.

There's a persistent pattern, in a number of states, of early returns providing a clear advantage to one party, and that advantage holding until all but a very few precincts return, and then those precincts not returning for hours after the other polls have closed, and then returning just enough to swing the election. And oddly enough, these precincts vote 90%+ for one party, and due to persistent efforts to keep the voter registry dirty, have more registered voters than they do people.

There are a lot of people who believe the Prosser would have lost, in Wisconsin, had the Secretary of State not "accidentally" held out a strong GOP county from the initial totals. That had she not, the voter manufacturing effort would have kept running until he had lost.

The Soros-backed efforts to stack the states SOS offices with radical leftists doesn't help convince people that there isn't fraud going on.

Still, I have an easy answer - stop counting votes, until after all of the polls have been closed. There's absolutely no need to be publishing any returns while there are polls still open.

Re:Ballot stuffing is very rare. (4, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937135)

Ballot stuffing (or even voting two or more times) is very rare.
So rare as to be a non-issue. Despite claims to the contrary.

Sorry, but you are quite simply wrong about that.

. . . two Troy city officials, the city clerk and a councilman, along with two Democratic political operatives, have pled guilty to forging absentee-ballot signatures and casting fraudulent ballots in the 2009 Working Families Party primary. The WFP is the political party associated with ACORN.

One of the citizens whose votes were stolen was stunned at what happened. She said that she was “sure this goes on a lot in politics, but it’s very rare that they do get caught.” This voter was right on the money with that observation — fraud is so easy to commit in our election system that it is rare that fraudsters get caught and even rarer that they get prosecuted.

. . . one of the Democratic operatives who pled guilty, Anthony DeFiglio, told New York State police investigators “that faking absentee ballots was a commonplace and accepted practice in political circles, all intended to swing an election.” And whose votes do they steal? DeFiglio was very plain about that: “The people who are targeted live in low-income housing, and there is a sense that they are a lot less likely to ask any questions.”

That is exactly what former Alabama congressman Artur Davis said recently when he admitted that he was wrong to oppose voter-ID requirements. Davis says the “most aggressive” voter suppression “is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt” of Alabama, which is an area of very poor black communities. These are the very areas where the NAACP claims voter fraud does not happen. The NAACP opposes all reasonable measures to safeguard the voting process for its own constituents, even going to the extent of defending vote stealers, as the NAACP did in Greene County, Ala., in the mid-1990s. Small wonder one of its local officials was recently sentenced to five years in prison for voter fraud in Tunica County, Mississippi. - Yes, Virginia, There Really Is Voter Fraud [nationalreview.com]

And more . . .

In contrast, a subsequent media analysis showed that at least 2000 votes were cast illegally in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. Since the margin of victory in Florida was 537 votes, the fraudulent votes were sufficient to affect the outcome of the election.

That’s not an isolated example. Evidence adduced at various commission hearings suggests numerous instances of actual voter fraud. The cases involve organizations and individuals who register ineligible voters, dead people, and fictional characters. In an infamous Ohio case during the 2004 presidential election campaign, a canvasser paid with crack cocaine registered Dick Tracy, Mary Poppins, and scores of other equally noteworthy characters.

Again, these aren’t isolated cases. A major 2001 voter registration drive in St. Louis’s black community produced 3,800 new voter cards. When some of the names appeared suspicious, elections officials investigated all of the cards and determined that every single one was fraudulent. Dogs, the dead, and people who simply didn’t want to register were among the new registrants.

The problem isn’t only that canvassers are being paid to produce manifestly fraudulent voter registrations; it’s also that voter rolls throughout the country are being padded with hundreds of thousands of false and fraudulent names. For example, testimony by John Sample before the Senate Rules Committee showed that Alaska had 503,000 people on its voter rolls but only 437,000 people of voting age in the entire state. Before the last presidential election, 140,000 Florida voters were registered in multiple jurisdictions.

This isn’t a minor concern. The 1998 Miami mayoral election actually had to be set aside due to rampant absentee-ballot forgeries.

Voter fraud isn’t the imaginary phenomenon some claim it to be. A GOP Plan To Disfranchise Democratic Voters in 2012? [nationalreview.com]

Most attempts at "fixing" the "voter fraud" issue are really aimed at making it more difficult for people to vote. They have to jump through more hoops so they might not be able to afford it in time or money (or both).

So, every 4-8 years (depending on state and age) someone might have to take a couple of hours to get a new photo id, which is often nominal cost, or even free. That is not what I would call a crushing burden. Quite the reverse I would say. Without that photo ID they will find it difficult or impossible to cash checks, buy bus, train, or plane tickets, purchase cough medicine or allergy pills, and a host of other daily activities that require a photo ID. Isn't it funny that activists take up the cause to prevent the requirement of having some form of ID to vote, but not to cash government assistance checks? If they are really advocates for the poor and down-trodden, why do they not attack what is going to be a constant problem and burden instead of something that occurs once every 2-4 years? I think we both know the answer.

You are confusing 2 issues there. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938405)

For example, testimony by John Sample before the Senate Rules Committee showed that Alaska had 503,000 people on its voter rolls but only 437,000 people of voting age in the entire state.

And?

The question is NOT whether the voter rolls were 100% accurate.

The question is whether people were voting multiple times.

Isn't it funny that activists take up the cause to prevent the requirement of having some form of ID to vote, but not to cash government assistance checks?

Nice. Thanks for showing that.

Remember, they *d8d* say "everyone" (3, Funny)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936823)

'How might we design an accessible election experience for everyone?'

1. In the long-time tradition of letting the dearly departed cast their ballot, it's time they make it official policy to "bring out your dead." Zombie votes have always been cast anyway - just legitimize the practice.

2. Furthering the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), people with ADHD and Aspergers should be allowed to better express themsleves by letting them "vote early, vote often". Keep pulling that lever as much as you need to!

3. Since the secrecy of the vote is an integral part of the election process, everyone will get a secret ballot, same as in Soviet Russia. "Do not open the ballot, citizen! It's called a SECRET ballot for a reason!"

4. To avoid discriminating against people who live on the west coast or other time zones, election results will be available nationwide 6 hours before the polls open, EDT. This will allow for more celebrations for the election of our dear leader.

5. Remember, it's not election fraud unless we say it is!

Re:Easy is easy (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937077)

No, no, no, you've got it backward. That's the accessibility of voting The accessibility of an election is how easy it is to steal it. The US EAC is looking for ways to make manipulating election results more accessible to disabled lobbyists, goons, and crooked politicians. I'm sure such respected election-stealing industry leaders like Diebold will bid quite viciously for any contract relating to giving their products an edge in the accessibility-conscious jurisdictions.

Re:Easy is easy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937209)

Easier for disabled people is a great idea. Easier for people, period, is bad. We need to get over this grade-school idea that "everyone should get out and vote". The fuck they should. We need SMARTER voters. Not more voters. Frankly, if you're too fucking stupid to vote on anything based on something other than "he's my religion durp durp!" or "he's gonna give me some free stuff durpa durp durp!" then you need to stay the fuck home and away from the polls.

Also, just do like we've done in Oregon for like fifteen fucking years, now. Vote by mail. No polls. You get a thing in the mail. You fill it out. You send it in.

Re:Easy is easy (-1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937509)

Voter fraud is a red herring. Aside from psudopolls like the Iowa Caucuses this year, have there been any major elections that would have been changed because of one or two fraudulent votes? Furthermore, voter fraud by individuals is nearly non existent, if you want to target fraud, target absentee voting which is where the little bit of fraud creeps in but most laws except absentee and other forms of voting not in person from voter ID laws and such. Yes, preventing fraud is a legitimate concern but it simply isn't a problem.

Re:Easy is easy (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937601)

What is much harder is to make it both easy to vote and make it difficult to cast a fraudulent vote.

I didn't see anything in the linked article about reducing fraud. The goal is to "include citizens with diverse cultural backgrounds, technology experiences, literacy and language proficiency, and abilities".

Re:Easy is easy (2)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938663)

There is a very simple way to make elections more accessible: make voting compulsory. As an Australian, I simply cannot fathom how the US seems to constantly struggle with issues such as electoral "accessibility". The advantages of compulsory voting [wikipedia.org] are numerous:

... compelling voters to the polls for an election mitigates the impact that external factors may have on an individual's capacity to vote such as the weather, transport, or restrictive employers. If everybody must vote, then restrictions on voting are easily identified and steps are taken to remove them. It is a measure to prevent disenfranchisement of the socially disadvantaged. Countries with compulsory voting generally hold elections on a Saturday or Sunday as evidenced in nations such as Australia, to ensure that working people can fulfill their duty to cast their vote. Postal and pre-poll voting is provided to people who cannot vote on polling day, and mobile voting booths may also be taken to old age homes and hospitals to cater for immobilized citizens.

Fraud is easily identified when everyone has to cast a vote - you cannot tick off a name more than once.

The arguments against compulsory voting generally boil down to thinking that the government asking for one's opinion qualifies as totalitarianism. But there is a simple solution to this.

If voters do not want to support any given choice, they may cast spoilt votes or blank votes. According to compulsory voting supporters, this is preferred to not voting at all because it ensures there is no possibility that the person has been intimidated or prevented from voting should they wish.

How about making an effective ID system available? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936717)

I might sympathize with the latest Republican frenzy for ID checks if they actually sought to make them constructively available, and to add some decent security features to them.

Instead we get states where people are told they have to provide all the gruntwork themselves, and the security is still as ineffective as ever.

Why not a national ID system? Why not any kind of biometric systems? Why nothing but a picture?

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936751)

Why not a national ID system?

States Rights. This is a conglomeration of 50 individual states. There is no 'national election'.

Why not any kind of biometric systems?

Too prone to failure

Why nothing but a picture?

How else would you do it? What is your suggestion?

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936825)

Why not a national ID system?

States Rights. This is a conglomeration of 50 individual states. There is no 'national election'.

The current SCOTUS would probably rule that elections to Federal offices (President, Congress) very obviously fall under the Interstate Commerce [wikipedia.org] and/or the Necessary and Proper [wikipedia.org] clauses of the constitution. Their reasoning would be bizarre and impenetrable, but their decision is final.

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936963)

Sorry but when you vote for members of Congress it is strictly by state. When you vote for President/Vice President you are voting for the Electors from your state. There are no Federal elections in the US, just state by state votes for Federal representatives. The only role the Federal Government plays is insuring fair elections across the 50 states and the territories.

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38938357)

Insuring, eh? How much is Florida's Premium?

But seriously, the ID is a matter of interstate commerce, giving the amount of identity fraud in this country. The application for elections would be incidental, not determinative.

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937655)

I must say I am puzzled by the notion that elections for federal public office would fall under the umbrella of "Interstate Commerce" as if money changes hands for elec... Oh! I see.

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936869)

State's Rights? The rallying cry of somebody who doesn't want something done...but the reality is, ID is a national, even international problem. It's clearly tied to interstate commerce and all sorts of other things that make a federal supremacy easy to justify.

And your complaints about too prone to failure apply to the photo ID systems, thank you, yet we rely on them when they're easily exploited and prone to failure, to the point where they're hardly of much use.

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38938649)

No, no no no. There are federal ID's available when required for constitutionally mandatory things. Passport for entering the country, FFL, pilot's license, coast guard licenses, those things are inherently interstate, and the federal government's responsibility. State ID is a state problem and belongs there. There is nothing good, nothing at all good, about trying to establish a federal ID. Tell me how your drivers license relates to interstate commerce, unless you propose some sort of (god I sound like a right-wing jackass now) internet commerce license.

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936809)

Why not a national ID system? Why not any kind of biometric systems? Why nothing but a picture?

If the Republicans suggested this you would be the first one up in arms.

Think for just a minute before posting such nonsense. Someone puts your name on a secret list, and you can't board an airplane. Now you want to entrust the right to vote to these same people?

You, sir, are a dangerous man.

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936845)

The Republicans are already trying for just that sort of control over the right to vote. At the State Level, where it can be exploited to disenfranchise people.

The fact that they are not arguing for doing it properly, but instead resentful of the mere suggestion that it needs to be done proactively (I've asked them, they say, no way, it would be too expensive!), tells me that they don't care about doing it right any way.

Like I said, I'd be inclined to support them if they were about making the effort sincere, but since they don't, clearly they're much like the Susan G. Komen foundation, seizing on an excuse to do what they want, not relying on an actual principle.

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936993)

The Republicans are already trying for just that sort of control over the right to vote. At the State Level, where it can be exploited to disenfranchise people.

Nonsense.

Please quote specific citations in specific states, or STFU.

Re:How about making an effective ID system availab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38938345)

Guess you haven't been paying attention to South Carolina's own admissions.

I Disagree. (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936737)

We don't need more accessibility. We need more transparency. Or, more specifically, companies can make all the cool electronic voting machines/procedures/whatever that they want to, as long as we the people have unfettered access to it to ensure that the system remains accurate.

eVoting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936747)

An online voting booth would easily create a substantial boost in the number of people voting and would limit out virtually no one (except those without internet or in rural areas, but frankly, absent door-to-door service, it is going to be extremely hard to include these people in elections. That, or at least a national and easy to use site/phone hotline for signing up for absentee voting.

Re:eVoting (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936847)

An online voting booth would easily create a substantial boost in the number of people voting and would limit out virtually no one (except those without internet or in rural areas, but frankly, absent door-to-door service, it is going to be extremely hard to include these people in elections. That, or at least a national and easy to use site/phone hotline for signing up for absentee voting.

Sure, toss that out there with out a shred of evidence that it would substantial boos in the number of people voting.

It might well increase the number of votes cast, but not necessarily the number of people voting.

It is drop dead simple to sign up for Absentee voting. Call your county government, forms in the mail, done.
It is not a National system because Elections are by constitution, managed by the states. That you don't know this, or are willing to waive it away makes you a very dangerous person in my eyes.

lots of things (4, Interesting)

theedgeofoblivious (2474916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936749)

Move voting to the weekend(for people who can't get away from work).

Make it last a full weekend from Friday at noon until Monday at noon(for people who can't get away from work).

Move voting to the spring(for people who have bad weather in early November).

Make it so anyone can vote at any voting station rather than requiring that people go to only the one(for convenience).

Make it so all schools and all government offices are voting stations(for convenience).

et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...

Re:lots of things (4, Interesting)

theedgeofoblivious (2474916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936779)

Oh, and institute approval voting.

Approval voting is simple. You mark the candidates you'd be okay with(not just the one you like the most), and the person with the most votes wins.

Make it so people can just circle the candidates they'd be okay with. This would cut down on extremist candidates and would improve the chances of candidates with wide appeal, would make voting easy to understand, and would make it easier to determine people's intended choices. It would remove people's incentive to vote for the "electable" candidate, and would encourage them to vote for candidates they really like.

The winning candidate would be the candidate who really had the most support among the voting population, not just the candidate who people thought most other people would vote for.

Or others. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936835)

Each state can have a different voting methodology.
Don't limit yourself to approval voting.

Wikipedia has a whole list of different voting methodologies and how they'd affect the outcome of elections.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system [wikipedia.org]

Re:Or others. (0)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936981)

Having looked at that dog's breakfast, it seems the way we do it now is just fine.
There are no clear winners in that hodgepodge of methods, and the stated rationale for many of them seems often seeded with manipulative social goals.

Re:lots of things (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937553)

We already have approval voting, its called the Republiocrats because neither side has a really distinguishable political platform. Where is the anti-war party? Where is the anti-taxation party? Etc. Obama is, like it or not, basically a moderate and not much different than Bush who was also a moderate.

Re:lots of things (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937019)

Move voting to the weekend(for people who can't get away from work).

Indeed. This is very important. And this one does not even require thinking.

Re:lots of things (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937309)

Move voting to the weekend(for people who can't get away from work).

Indeed. This is very important. And this one does not even require thinking.

A number of historians have claimed that the American custom of voting on Tuesdays was created explicitly so that employers could prevent their employees from voting. Simply have an "emergency" at work that requires all employees stay on duty until the problem is fixed, and you've eliminated most of the wrong kind of votes from the people you employ.

I have wondered what the actual historical evidence for this is. It's easy enough to find claims of such things, but it's not quite as easy for a "layman" to spend the time it would take (without taking time off from work ;-) to find the actual historical documents explaining why something as bizarre as Tuesday elections was implemented.

In any case, we might note that in many countries, elections days are national work-free holidays. Passing a law like this would undo the effects of the US's custom of voting on work days. It'd probably also result in elections being moved to the weekend, since there would no longer be a reason to hold elections during work days.

Re:lots of things (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937453)

The vote on Tuesday was because in those days you couldn't mess with the Sabbath so it had to be a week day.
Furthermore we were an agrarian society for the most part, so employers didn't even enter in to it.
Voting was set late in the year, after harvest, when most farmers really didn't have all that much going on.
Travel by horse means a day to the county seat, vote, go home taking another day.
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2008/01/why-we-vote-on/ [go.com]

Re:lots of things (1)

sd4f (1891894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937487)

That's more or less how it happens here in Australia, which has compulsory attendance, turnout rates end up being above 90%, except for the extended period of voting, here it's only ever a single day from 8am to 6pm. With compulsory attendance, we do have laws which compel employers to release workers to go to vote but they just about always select a saturday and since there is a need to process so many individuals, schools, church halls, public halls, hospitals, pretty much any government or building voluntarily offered is used for voting.

Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936757)

As long as we're only allowed to vote for people or parties and not on actual decisions, what's the point in making those elections more accessible?

Re:Why? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936855)

Probably the most insightful thing posted on this thread. Where are my mod points when I need them, and why are you posting as AC?

Re:Why? (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938141)

As long as we're only allowed to vote for people or parties and not on actual decisions, what's the point in making those elections more accessible?

Because that would be even easier to manipulate than the congress, which passed the PATRIOT act almost unanimously, after allowing 20 minutes for reading it, and a year later most of them still hadn't read it. How many voters would actually read 1000+ pages of legislation, AND actually take the time to understand it? More likely they'd put stuff in front of people like "STOP CHILD PORNOGRAPHY act", with things in it like automatic access to every GPS device, requiring a Federal license to access the Internet, and making encryption illegal without authorization from the Federal Reserve.

Is this really necessary? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936775)

There are already many different programs in place for this, from Absentee Ballots (by mail) , to free handicapped bus service for those still wanting to go to the polls. By some accounts even the dead can already vote.

It seems like this is redundant, as states and local government already reach out to their handicapped citizens. Government posturing seems to be the primary emphasis here, to get the last possible government dependent person to vote, regardless of cost, and woe be to anyone who stands in the way, or suggests that anyone who wants to vote already has the opportunity, and that there are those who simply don't want to vote.

Follow the link in TFA to the mission statement [openideo.com] and notice this nugget:

Cognitive disabilities: intellectual, developmental, remembering, concentrating

If someone can't remember who they wanted to vote for, or is too mentally challenged to form and opinion why include them in this process at all? (especially when some states require a sound mind to vote).

More troubling was this paragraph:

While each country has its own election system, and we have only a limited ability to change that, we can focus on making elections more accessible, through new technologies, communications tools, and processes.

What? Excuse me? This sounds like the groundwork for more meddling in the business of other countries than improving anything in the US.

Re:Is this really necessary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936843)

County.

Dead Counts as Disability? (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936793)

Any attempt at making voting more accessible should not make the election process easier to tamper with.

For example, have a machine print a voted ballot, and the human-readable parts of that ballot are what are counted.

Imagine a virus that manipulated databases, but only took effect on election day. That would certainly effect systems where the votes are only stored as digital data.

Things I want to see change in the US. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936853)

Runnoff voting, so we can vote for the candidates we want in order of importance, instead of feeling forced into voting for the "lesser" of two evils.
 
  Using open-algorithm division of all voting districts, to greatly reduce the instance of gerrymandering.
 
  After one has completed a prison sentence, they should not be barred from participating in democracy. Barring the vote to convicted felons is a travesty.
 
  I would love something like Helios being used, the ability to vote at home would help millions reach the poll (While keeping poll sites using the same software), and tracking ones vote online in realtime is a fantastic concept. http://heliosvoting.org/
 
  I want the ability to vote "no confidence" if need be.
 
  I want limits on private financing of campaigns, and better open financing.
 
  And I want the presidential filing fee be greatly reduced, every state allow for write-ins, the need of signatures removed. I think if we are in a fully digital system we are no longer trying to keep the ballot down to a simple sheet, limiting the available candidates this way leaves the option of running only to the super-rich. I don't care if there are a thousand bored college students on the ballot running for *bread and circus*, a proper democratic action should allow for it. So while we are a democratic republic, an increased amount of democracy towards the voting in of representatives allows for the people to really be heard.

Re:Things I want to see change in the US. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936953)

Some would say strategic voting is still possible with Instant Runoff Voting, and that the Condorcet method eliminates it. But either one would still be better than our archaic "first past the post" plurality voting system.

And I agree with all of your other points.

Re:Things I want to see change in the US. (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937923)

Some would say strategic voting is still possible with Instant Runoff Voting

But it would be a very weird election where it was useful. Look at the scenarios created to demonstrate strategic voting under IRV, then change "Candidate A, B, C" to actual parties. The scenario usually falls apart.

Electronic Voting with a paper trail (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936875)

Think about how many tens/hundreds of millions was wasted on failtacular e-voting initiatives.
Imagine if all the States got together and spent that money once on an Open Source hardware/software package.
Even if they go over schedule and over budget, it'll only ever have to be done once.

And this time, don't farm out the job to politically connected corporations.
Instead, have the programming coordinated with some University's Computer Science Dept
and don't forget to have it all overseen by the guys/gals from BlackBox Voting.

I'm sure there are more than enough people who'd be happy to volunteer their testing skills throughout the design and coding cycle to ensure that the voting software comes out with minimal bugs and security holes.

Holiday (2)

Dracos (107777) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936877)

Make election day a holiday for whatever jurisdiction (federal, state, county, etc) is on the ballot.

Re:Holiday (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937079)

People would just do what they do on any other holiday: sleep late, go to the "Special Voting Day Sale," have a cookout, drink beer, sit around, watch the "Voting Day Bowl Game" on TV, drink more beer, etc.

Everything except go out and vote.

Re:Holiday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937099)

Might help with some jobs. My employer has no holiday exemption as it runs 24/7 for hourlies. Your shift, you can use a vacation day, if nobody beat you to it. All employees get eight hours straight time for the holiday whether they worked or not.

Standard shifts are 12 hours long, so the voting window is short.

Making it a holiday helps, but stretching over a day or two would help more.

Take the faux-scandal and Gingrich's billionaire financial, Sheldon Adelson. He is strict enough as a Jew that he couldn't vote in his state's primary, Nevada, due to being on Saturday. So the GOP allowed his caucus to run on a slightly different schedule.

Whether you agree or not with that exception, it demonstrates other vote blocks that aren't business only.

So several day voting and/or Internet voting would likely be the best bets.

Isn't that exactly the opposite of the trend? (2, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936889)

I thought the US was trying to make elections LESS accessible out of concerns of voter fraud. Voter ID stuff and all that?

Re:Isn't that exactly the opposite of the trend? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937369)

Seriously, you get voted insightful for that troll?

Who cares about the law? (1)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38936891)

I was telling outside a polling station. A car drew up. Someone got out of the car and went into the polling station.

The presiding officer came out and said to us tellers (representing the candidates (I forget whether this was a year when I was also the candidate)):

"There's a disabled lady in that car who would have considerable difficulty getting into the polling station. I have been asked to take her ballot paper out to the car for her to fill in. Do you have any objections?"

This suggestion was of course completely illegal. Naturally, however, I and the tellers for the other candidates said "no problem at all, go ahead" and that's what happened.

A victory for common sense over the boring details of the regulations. I had no idea, and neither did any of the other tellers, who the punter was going to vote for - that wasn't the point.

Re:Who cares about the law? (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938099)

I was handing out voting cards for a friend who was running for office here in Australia, and at the end of the day an older couple comes up. The husband gets out of the car, and is looking for a voting card (here in Australia, you usually have to do more than just tick one box, you need to tick a few, based on personal opinion or your preferred party's suggested order) for his wife. After doing this all day, I could usually pick which people would ask for which party's voting card, and I quickly realised that although he'd taken the voting card that I was handing out, he wanted one for the opposing party. None of their people were handing out stuff, they were off talking, knowing they'd done very well that day. So I went to their area, got one of the cards, and gave it to him. His intention was clear, he knew which party he preferred, he just needed some technical details to follow, and I was happy to help him. No voter with clear intent should ever be disenfranchised, we should make every effort to help them cast their vote and remove barriers.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38936893)

Because absentee ballots and the ability to have a personal assistant in the voting booth don't cover it?

How about a more open news system that isn't biased that way people can make a more informed decision (not that they would, just fewer excuses)?

In California voting is easy (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937005)

I don't see how it can be more accessible in California.
I have a harder time going to the DMV.

Step 1: sign up to vote. Make sure you check vote by mail.
Step 2: receive vote by mail ballot.
Step 3: research your issues/candidates
Step 4: Fill out your ballot
Step 5: return by mail.
Step 6: wait for next election. Return to step 2.

Fuck the EAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937011)

I wouldn't trust a fucking thing they say.

"Assistance" (1)

ChadL (880878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937039)

We could have people working at the polling stations who act as proxies to assist voters. The voter tells the worker who to vote for, then the worker places the vote.
Because we are short on money, they canidates should pay these workers, and decide how many and where they work.
I'm sure self-regulation will work fine for this, so faud won't be an issue.

Re:"Assistance" (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937353)

Brilliant!

And all paid for by the candidates. Problem solved with no additional government money.

Stop universal suffrage (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937053)

Why do those who have not, get to vote on the distribution of wealth from those who have? If you're not a property owner, how much skin in the game do you really have? If you can't pass a basic civics test, how are you qualified to vote?

Re:Stop universal suffrage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38937267)

Because the laws will be applied to you.

The entitlement flows in the other direction, not because of who you are, but because of the way the laws work.

You are thinking of voting as something you earn, but rather, your right to vote is how the government earns your consent.

It's an easy confusion to make, the rich often think they are entitled to something because they deserve it, not that they need to deserve to have something.

Every Day a Holiday in November (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937073)

We could start by just collecting ballots every day in November, not just the first Tuesday. Or we could move it to the first weekend if a month is too long to keep walkup ballots secret (though we do it with non-anonymous voting by mail).

We could make "Election Day" a mandatory Federal holiday, even if we keep it on Tuesday. Or we could make any voting receipt exchangeable for a holiday, either in November, or maybe within 6-12 months with 30 days advance notice and approval.

This will help people with access disadvantages by making shorter lines at the polls, and making more physically accessible poll locations available during a longer window to arrange to attend there.

Best Solution IMO (2)

no-body (127863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937175)

So, forgo all the electronic gadgetry, do a simple mechanical trustworthy traceable process with paper and be done with it! Do it locally with many eyes watching over everything happening.

It's not hip enough and the results cannot be shown on live TV screens as instantly and the voting equipment companies won't do so much business - so what!

Apparently, some entities are using straight paper ballots for the sake of transparency and simplicity. Switzerland appears to be one of those. No complaints about lack of trustworthiness.

Re:Best Solution IMO (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937819)

Australia has pencil-and-paper voting and we still get to have live results TV coverage. The only time we don't get a same-day result is when it comes down to one seat, and it's within the margin of postal-ballots. (Or recently, when neither party got a majority and the independents took their sweet fucking time deciding who to support.)

Although I would suggest the US separates Federal, State and Local elections to different times of year, and where possible, different years. That would make things easier both for voters and for counters.

Re:Best Solution IMO (2)

no-body (127863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937921)

Good points - another idea is to move elections from Tuesdays to Sundays where most people don't work.

Re:Best Solution IMO (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938191)

another idea is to move elections from Tuesdays to Sundays where most people don't work.

Sounds like an excellent idea to get some more entertainment value out of the religious right.

American Idol Style (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937253)

Everyone should get to vote as much as they want by texting a number, but each vote costs $1. Then the WHOLE WORLD could weigh in! And if Hu Jintao wants to get on the ballot and run, more power to him! Problem solved (You're welcome!)

Technology not always a good idea! (1)

sd4f (1891894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937543)

The last federal election in Australia had something like 16,000 discrepancies, the problem in Aus, is that you aren't require to prove your identity to vote, you do need to identify yourself, but that only means stating your name and address, so that you get crossed off the list, but each electorate has many polling booths, each with many lists, so the same person can vote numerous times, and even though the electoral office will eventually see that, they can't prove whether it was that actual person who went to vote a number of times, pretty much unless they admit it.

Having worked at elections, i would argue that people should be required to prove who they are to vote, but i would be strongly against any electronic system for voting, as i think the old fashioned ballot paper does its job, and while open to some error, is somewhat harder to fabricate, the ballots are there, they all have different scribbles on them, and if any totals go pear shaped, the ballots can always be recounted, again, having worked at the elections, i can say with full confidence that Australian election are not rigged, even though 16,000 discrepancies, that's across 150 electorates all around 80,000 voters in size, and i do think something should be done to reduce the cases of electoral fraud, however, on the whole, voter sentiment ultimately wins as the fraud is only ever a problem in marginal seats, and both sides in the two party system do it, so they kind of cancel each other out. Close results usually mean that there's less than 1,000 votes between the two preferred candidates.

Re:Technology not always a good idea! (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938131)

The last federal election in Australia had something like 16,000 discrepancies, the problem in Aus, is that you aren't require to prove your identity to vote, you do need to identify yourself, but that only means stating your name and address, so that you get crossed off the list, but each electorate has many polling booths, each with many lists, so the same person can vote numerous times, and even though the electoral office will eventually see that, they can't prove whether it was that actual person who went to vote a number of times, pretty much unless they admit it.

Similar systems are used in many US States, but in all cases i've ever seen, there is exactly ONE ledger. (Several to look you up in, but only one to post in).
(I can't imagine doing it any other way, because the damage would be done by the time you detected it. No way to pull a secret ballot from the bin).
You then vote a paper ballot, counted by machine and the paper is retained for recounts.

In Washington State they have gone to Ballot by Mail. They have a couple weeks to vote after receiving the mailed ballot, and they mail it back. Results are usually known by the official deadline, not because the post office is that efficient, but because most people get it done early and ballots are counted electronically, and voters can look up their ballot on line to see if it was received. Paper ballots read by machines, saved for recounts.

I like mail voting.

It only has two commonly cited flaws are:
Homeless people, (they all get mail somewhere, how else to get their government checks),
and
Vote/ballot buying. (Guido comes by, watches you vote (or just collects your ballot and votes for you), hands you the six pack or weed, or $40 bucks or what-ever.)

Neither is proving a significant issue yet.

Re:Technology not always a good idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38938711)

Vote buying has been caught in several nursing homes. However, the incumbents, for some reason, have never cared to prosecute it. Go figure. google [google.com] it.

Re:Technology not always a good idea! (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938793)

Oddly enough the most egregious cases of vote buying on record happen in exactly the type of outreach the election commission wants to promote.

It didn't happen in vote by mail jurisdictions where it is commonly claimed the risk is the greatest.

Easy (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937551)

Auction off every seat publicly. Why use the big detour via PACs->campaign ads->voters??? It's inefficient and reduces transparency.

Online Voting (1)

digitally404 (990191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937761)

What could possibly be more accessible than voting online? There are public avenues of doing this (library's, internet cafe's)... Seriously. As for security, we already do some very sensitive transactions online, and I'm sure all the tallied data is going to end up on some networked computer somewhere anyways even now... How about you create a youtube-esque election site that covers everyones agendas? Where the size of your bank account doesn't matter, because you reach to just as many people as the next guy, who's poorer than you...

Away with congressman and representatives! I want to be able to represent myself! Just let me vote for elections and on major policies online...

Obviously this requires some more planning and thinking to actually make it work.

Re:Online Voting (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38938041)

The study is about improving voter access, not going backward.

Computer/internet access is estimated at only 77% in the US. [internetworldstats.com] Thats in line with the US Census bureau estimate of 68% back in 2009.

Internet cafe? Really? I have no idea where these things exist any more, and nothing would suppress voter turnout than having to queue up at some sleazy back alley gamer/porn den.

Libraries? With their semi-functional ancient computers? No.

And if you seriously don'b believe this could be gamed and hacked you are nuts.
Nothing like handing the keys of power out as the prize for the first person (country) to do so.

some candidates yearn for the opposite (2)

ronpaulisanidiot (2529418) | more than 2 years ago | (#38937815)

remember that the ever-popular-on-slashdot ron paul specifically wants the very opposite of "more accessible elections". the candidate who calls himself a "libertarian" has on more than one occasion publicly chastised the american voter as the source of our troubles. remember that before you consider supporting someone who wants "a government you can drown in a bathtub".

while our election system is far from perfect, there are some who very plainly wish to make it worse.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38938289)

Too many people overlook that there are politicians who are very clearly enemies of democracy.

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