Elections and Status-quo

I noticed a discussion, which I recreate below, on Mayor Manzi’s Blog.

Under the title Methuen Primary Results, scroll down to the comments and read;

Tina Conway on September 15, 2010 3:19 am
Mayor, do you agree that it’s time for us to look at the money we spend on elections? It just seems like we continue to do it “the way we always have” and yet fewer and fewer people vote. Perhaps if we looked at ways to innovate, online voting, for example, we’d not only spend less money, we might actually get more people to vote.
In your opinion, whose job is it to “get people to the polls?” The people who are running or those of us whose job it is to administer the elections?

Bill Manzi on September 15, 2010 3:58 am
I think it really is past time to look at different methods for conducting elections. The technology is there to make it easier for people to vote. But as you know change comes hard, and sometimes people would rather stick with a failing model to avoid that change. As far as whose job it is to bring folks out my opinion is that job belongs to the candidates. Lack of voter enthusiasm is a big part of our problem. It is our job to make sure that voting is as easy as it can be for the people who choose to vote, under current law. What do the clerks think of online voting? Is there any professional consensus on ways to stimulate voter interest?

Tina Conway on September 15, 2010 6:38 am
I agree totally that the most effective “get out the vote” catalyst is for the candidates to generate the interest in their campaigns. Note the turnout in the January 2010 special election; Scott Brown was a compelling candidate who ran an exceptional campaign, and the electorate responded. Remember, this was during the coldest month of the year the day after a holiday and a snowstorm, and turnout was over 50%.
As for the clerks, I can’t say I have heard a lot of discussion about online voting, but if I had to guess I would think that community would be more than willing to think about and consider anything. They are a wealth of knowledge and the bridge from “the way it has always been” to “how to make it better.”
However, their, and my, biggest frustration, is that the legislative initiatives out there that relate to voting, for example election day registration, are always undertaken without input from the clerks, the community that best knows the process. They have finally brought us into the fold on that particular issue, but it is a major concern that they could even have thought it was a good idea to not discuss it with us first.
I think we would all be concerned if even more revolutionary measures, such as online voting, were contemplated without extensive consultation with the community of clerks.
But it is fascinating to contemplate, and I think we can do it a lot better and a lot cheaper, if the will is there to change it.

The mayor and the City Clerk were discussing changing the process of voting.
Seems a shame that this discussion was not sent to the Charter commission.

Instead of internet voting, which I have no technical issues with but which is difficult to accomplish because not all registered voters are computer literate. Let’s face it, a large number of our elected officials cannot even open or send emails.
Why don’t we start by looking at telephone voting?
You will find two links on the right sidebar that discuss e-voting.
Voting by phone would reduce costs and due to the wide acceptance and low learning curve, should increase voter turnout.
If we can file and pay income tax to the State via the phone, why not vote the same, secure way over a widely used medium, telephone?
Would be nice if we included incentives to bring voter turnout near to 100%.

What is wrong with discussion about Proportional Representation and Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). Both are acceptable alternatives to the costly preliminary and potential runoff elections that we now hold.

Shouldn’t we be having a discussion about alternatives to old fashioned voting booths?

Why hasn’t the City Council (holder of the purse strings) asked the City Clerk to investigate and report back on possible alternatives that are effective, cost conscious and implementable?

This is the 21st Century. Isn’t it?

admin posted at 2010-12-16 Category: Charter, City Council, Uncategorized

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