Large turnout overwhelms Dinkytown polling site

by Andrew Johnson

Students who voted yesterday afternoon at the University Lutheran Church on 13th Avenue in Dinkytown saw many voters marking their ballots on stairs, up against a wall or sitting at a desk.
The voting location nearest the Minneapolis campus saw heavy voting traffic on Tuesday — too much traffic at times for the limited number of cubicles.
Those voting in Dinkytown might have witnessed the slight increase in this year’s election turnout.
Officials have said there was slightly higher national voter turnout from the last presidential election — from two percent to three percent increase.
While students marking their ballots outside of the cubicles seems unusual, the high voter turnout on the Minneapolis campus made exceptions inevitable.
Minnesota Secretary of State, Mary Kiffmeyer, said, “While it is much preferred for the comfort and maximum privacy in voting, to do so in a cubicle … not disrupting the voting process is a also a consideration. Above all, it is the voter’s choice.”
To accommodate both the speed and integrity of the individual vote, Kiffmeyer said, it is not unusual that election officials might allow or suggest a voter find a private spot in which to vote.
Kiffmeyer, formerly a state election judge for 11 years, points out that voters should stay inside the established voting room and said there are election judges that usually observe the door to that room.
“It is bothersome when ballots disappear, and one big issue for each location is controlling the number of ballots that go out,” Kiffmeyer said. “Obviously, it is more bothersome if one (ballot) is added.”
States’ rights
One aspect of the nationwide presidential race is that the election laws or procedures are set by each individual state. This means that different procedures and even different voting mechanisms may be used in the various states.
For instance, while Minnesota uses a scanner ballot, other states, such as Georgia and Massachusetts, still use the more old-fashioned lever machines that punch the paper ballot with the voter’s choice.
Strengths of the scanner ballot system include greater voter certainty, in comparison to the old mechanisms, where the voters “didn’t have the same sense of actually doing (their own) ballot,” Kiffmeyer said.
There is also less reliability in the old machines that may inaccurately punch a vote or miss a vote altogether.
The ballot scanners check for things like over-voting and help achieve the “maximum value in votes,” Kiffmeyer said.
Yesterday’s election helps confirm the potential irregularities in state voting procedures.
Amid unconfirmed charges rising in Florida regarding possible voting irregularities in its presidential tallies, individual states’ election procedures become more noteworthy, if not necessarily significant.

Andrew Johnson welcomes comments at [email protected].