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OUR VIEW: Re-establishing voter confidence

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Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 8:00 pm

Voters tend to have long memories — especially if they were left standing outside for hours waiting to vote.

Good thing newly installed Sandoval County Clerk Eileen Garbagni has a few years to get things right — and four years before she’s up for re-election.

Garbagni oversees the Bureau of Elections, which took a lot of heat for its so-called “convenience centers” for voting in the General Election. Some voters waited as long as five hours to cast their votes and President Obama was announced the winner while some still had hours before they could vote.

Garbagni served as the chief deputy county clerk under her predecessor, Sally Padilla, who retired at the end of 2012.

Last week, Garbagni stated that she wants to do away with convenience centers and go back to each precinct having its own polling place. She identified one of the main problems with the convenience centers as not having enough ballot machines to process the ballots.

Indeed, the process of identifying a voter by his or her individual precinct and then printing a ballot with each person’s specific candidates and questions took an extraordinary amount of time. That was evident even at the early voting centers.

The long lines generated questions about the integrity of the election and cast doubt on whether the long lines could have cost candidates votes. Some candidates accused Padilla’s office of “suppressing the vote” and “fraud” and filed lawsuits, but eventually dropped them.

Garbagni has agreed to work with the Sandoval County Commission to resolve the issues and look at getting its buy-in for the next election cycle. The commission passed a resolution in December that requires the clerk to provide it with the analysis used to determine the voting method for each precinct as well as calculations of how long it will take for each person to vote.

If the county moves to voting at the precinct level, as she suggested, it will certainly require more ballot machines. Let’s start by making sure the county — or state — allocates the resources to supply the additional ballot machines. Residents are encouraged to share their opinion on convenience centers vs precinct polling places.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • AGregS posted at 4:25 pm on Tue, Jan 15, 2013.

    AGregS Posts: 140

    @Mack - you seem to thnk that the only reason for the long lines was the lack of all resources in the amounts that they were available before. A better evaluation would be to determine where the bottle necks were. Such as due to the fact that different ballots had to be printed out because of the different precincts being consolidated then the bottle neck might have been at the printer as several poll workers were trying to print to the same printer. This was the problem mentioned in the article. The overly simple analysis you made is likely to create wasted resources as it would have allocated the same resource levels. Like when one company buys another and the HR and accounting departments then become redundant. While I agree a better process could have been in place especially after seeing the new "doesn't matter where you go" process in action during early voting, applying overly simplistic analysis to back up a complaint doesn't get much consideration for the complaint.

  • Mack posted at 3:50 pm on Mon, Jan 14, 2013.

    Mack Posts: 215

    Okay, maybe this is too simple for politicians but it seem like it should work. You have ten precincts (a randomly picked number) and you want to have four will placed convenient centers add up the total number of voting machines, printers and personnel in the ten precincts divide those totals by 4 the number convenient centers and place them at a strategic location near a central location with easy access of the precincts the convenient center is replacing.

    Example: 10 precincts each precinct has 6 voting machines, 3 printers and 12 people.

    10 precincts X 6 voting machines = 60 voting machines,
    10 precincts X 3 printers = 30 printers,
    10 precincts x 12 people = 120 people (aka volunteer personnel).

    Totals are divided by the number of desired convenient precincts 4;
    60 voting machines ÷ by 4 convenient precincts = 15 voting machines in each
    30 printers ÷ by 4 convenient precincts = 7.5 printers (round down to 7 to keep it simple) in each precinct
    120 volunteers ÷ by 4 convenient precincts = 30 volunteers in each precinct.

    The question and decision here is, does the county or state want to save money by reduce equipment and personnel or just make it truly convenient for the voters to vote? If the precincts with previous numbers of machines and personnel handled 80 thousand plus voters in the past then 3 or 4 fully equipped and staff convenient centers should do the same and fulfill the objective of giving the public a convenient center. Oh, and don’t rely on the majority to vote early. Voters and the losing party don’t like long lines or long waits you know the consequences. Convenient center should be convenient.


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