From: Noel Taylor
Received: Nov. 8
This is a response to your front page article, “Waiting for Answers.” Here’s an answer — a minor change in precinct procedures has caused significant change in voter access. As reported on WCSI on Tuesday, Richard Fogler and at least two other voters had to leave Parkside without voting because job commitments prevented their remaining in the long lines there. Fogler tells me that he had timed voters well ahead of him and noted that it took the people he timed two hours to get through the line, and was told by precinct workers that he would not be allowed to return later in the day to vote because he had already signed in. As a result, Fogler lost his vote.
I don’t vote at Parkside, but I saw the same potential problem at my precinct. My family used to vote at North High School. If the line was out the door and across the parking lot, and turned out to be moving too slowly for our schedules, we could go on to work and come back later. Otherwise, we could wait in line until it moved to within 2 to 3 voters of the voting booths themselves, where the table that contained the books was placed, and it was at that point that we signed in. Not so at our new precinct location, and apparently, not so at Parkside either.
What we faced Tuesday was a new practice. As we arrived at the line in the hall behind a large meeting room, we were met by precinct monitors — one from each party — who, when they noticed new people in line, redirected them to a table in the front of the room. This table was on the far right of the room, and there was still a long line across the front of the room to the voting booths on its far left. We had to work our way past all the people lined up from the back to the front of the room, sign in, and then work our way through the crowd back to the hallway to get back in line.
In my mind, this practice created the problem that Richard Fogler faced. When I pointed that out to precinct monitor Sue Chapple as she redirected me, she replied that leaving should be no problem, since the precinct people could simply make a note of the departure and allow the person to rejoin the crowd later in the day. Apparently this work-around was not explained to the election officials at Parkside. Yet the issue is not the work-around, but the need for a work-around in the first place.
I have no clue whether this change — having people sign in before they join a long line instead of signing in when they reach the voting booth area — is now county-wide or if it was unique to Richard’s and my precincts. In either case, it’s a bad idea and needs to be changed.