SC NAACP standing up to SC Electoral Commission
Its been a while since the election and, like the return of Paul Volcker, South Carolina’s electoral difficulties were predictable. The Spartanburg Chapter of the SC NAACP held a public forum on problems and possible fixes with the election last night.
Spartanburg County Director of Voter Registration and Elections Henry Laye was there, addressing a widely reported technical failing of the vote:
Part of the problem with long lines in this year’s presidential election was that laptop computers with lists of registered voters on them couldn’t talk to one another — a problem that led to awkward, sometimes arbitrary divisions in line based on people’s last names. Laye said he was given a quote of $37,000 on Monday from a vendor that would allow those laptops to share a secure wireless connection and eliminate the need to divide people into any kind of alphabetical line.
Laye was speaking to the Herald-Journal this past summer about long lines and you’d think from the June 10th article that the state had the problem well in hand. In fact the ten precincts which used the laptops were among the slowest, with some waiting four hours to vote.
Laye’s reference to a secure connection to the internet is puzzling, since he makes a virute of each machine’s independence from wireless communication in the June 10th article. It may be that Laye is merely looking for a vendor to assume responsibility, as the BofE has wholeheartedly accepted the ES&S marketing strategy of the states problematic iVotronic machines.
I don’t believed that the South Carolina Board of Elections was dilligently vetting its purchases. Unlike states like Ohio and Florida, South Carolina’s BofE doesn’t post much in the way of critical information on its website. If this state has commissioned academic trials of its voting system, then it hasn’t seen fit to share the results with the public. Florida and Ohio have done so, and it would probably be acceptable for South Carolina to make use of their work.
Its well known locally, but maybe is less known outside the state that the SC NAACP has taken the state government to task over removal of the Confederate flag from the State House grounds.
NAACP initiates public discussion on voting issues
By Jason Spencer
Published: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 3:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 3:45 p.m.
Striking while the iron is hot, as Dwight James put it, the South Carolina NAACP and its local branches hosted a town hall meeting Monday night to go over the good, the bad and the potential changes that need to be made in this state’s election process.
James, the executive director of the state organization, left saying the discussion has only begun.
“I’m taking away from this a sense that there is growing support for an early-voting system in South Carolina,” he said. “And public officials are beginning to wake up to the fact that they need to make it easier and more accessible to vote.”
After the introduction of nine panelists — which included state Sen. Glenn Reese, state Rep. Harold Mitchell and Spartanburg County Councilman Michael Brown — the night quickly turned into a forum where people could vent their frustration and brainstorm ways in which the state could move forward. State Reps. Mike Forrester and Derham Cole Jr. were among the 50 or so people in the audience.
While some of the concerns have been raised in a public setting before, frustration from long lines — and some claims of voter intimidation — are still simmering from Election Day. Any change in the process will be at the feet of the state Legislature, which convenes in January, and perhaps to a limited extent, county government.
Office of Registrations and Elections Director Henry Laye will make a presentation to Spartanburg County Council later this month and to the Spartanburg County Legislative Delegation in February.
Some ideas broached Monday night:
— Early voting has become an increasingly hot topic. Such a system would be similar to what’s in place in North Carolina, where multiple polls are set up around a county two to three weeks before an election and any registered voter can cast a ballot there for any reason. There are multiple costs associated with such a system, not to mention the problem of finding venues to host the polls. But Bob Hall, head of the voting rights group Democracy NC, pointed out that this year, about 60 percent of Tarheel State voters took advantage of early voting. He also said counties like Buncombe (home to Asheville) and Wake (where Raleigh is) began opening polls in malls and other places that draw large numbers of people.
— Mitchell said he’s willing to look into a system that establishes a secure database that would allow online voting in South Carolina.
— Part of the problem with long lines in this year’s presidential election was that laptop computers with lists of registered voters on them couldn’t talk to one another — a problem that led to awkward, sometimes arbitrary divisions in line based on people’s last names. Laye said he was given a quote of $37,000 on Monday from a vendor that would allow those laptops to share a secure wireless connection and eliminate the need to divide people into any kind of alphabetical line.
— Disagreement over the necessity and fallibility of same-day voter registration intensified whenever that subject was brought up.
— Mitchell and Reese both said the state needed to crack down on the Division of Motor Vehicles, where many people choose to register to vote. One woman, Yvette Lee, told a story of 122 young people who had registered to vote for the first time this year at the DMV — only to have Election Day find them still without voter registration cards or any way to cast a ballot.
— Alice Henderson, an officer in the League of Women Voters, expressed interest in going to an all-mail form of voting, similar to what Oregon has adopted.
— Reese said candidates should be outlawed from going to any polls for the purpose of greeting people on Election Day.
The Spartanburg County Democratic Party will hold a post-election forum at 6 p.m. Monday at the Chapman Cultural Center.