John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

One of those deals where they close the bars

Today is Election Day here in Madison, the first of two this year. That's a nice change of pace! Last year, thanks to the gubernatorial recall, we had six elections. I like working at the polls, but that's a bit too much even for me.

(Speaking of working at the polls, I did today, and I wrote this yesterday and queued it to post automatically. Which it did not do. Boo!)

What does six elections in one year look like? In the City of Madison, it looked like this:

• 443,613 ballots counted
• 51,571 Election Day registrations
• 72,552 absentee ballots issued
• 61,070 absentee returned to be counted

That's a lot!

Election day registrations are a slightly contentious subject in Wisconsin right now; the state Republican party would like to do away with it — conservatives don't like things that make it too easy for people to vote — but getting rid of it would cost 14 million dollars, so it's not likely to be going away any time soon.

Personally, I think same-day registration is great, though I have to say it creates more work for the election officials and slows things down for the voters. In the November election, 22,064 Madisonians registered on Election Day — nearly 15% of all voters that day! (By the way, that includes people who'd never voted, people who'd moved since the last time they voted, or had been purged from the rolls because they hadn't voted in so long.) And that was lower than usual for a Presidential election! But despite that, there was one point during the day when the line to register at my polling place was more than 50 feet long, while people who were registered could just walk in.

The major problem with same-day registration from an election administration standpoint is that when you're processing that many registrations and trying to do it as quickly as possible, errors creep in. In November, 820 of the registrations — 3.7% of the total — had problems. For example, there were a bunch of problems concerning birthdates. 258 people didn't list a birthdate at all; 19 listed 2012 as their year of birth; one person said they were born in 2019. Other fun problems:

• 137 people registered in the wrong ward.
• 2 people forgot to write down their street name.
• 5 people forgot to sign the form.
• 8 people forgot to give their first name.
• 1 person gave an address in California.

Of course, we election officials made mistakes too. Indeed, in a way they're all our mistakes, since we're supposed to check over the forms before we sign them. In my polling place, we made two mistakes: we registered one person who didn't live in our ward, and we missed a missed birthdate. Oops!
Tags: elections, politics, wisconsin: madison

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