Saturday, May 12, 2007

At the Polls- Some Better Locations Needed in Less Advantaged Areas

A well organized, comfortable May 8 polling location in Parma, OH

Most polls I visited on May 8 were calm, with satisfied, cooperating workers who knew what they were doing.
as I've visited various Cuyahoga polls during the last three elections, both as an observer and outside as exit poller, I've also found that some polling locations especially in less advantaged areas were completely uninviting, some dimly lit, very hard to find, had no parking, no ground or grass available to insert flags or signs outside, and in some cases because of activity outside the doors, felt unsafe to approach.

From church annexes located in down-the-street, unsigned and torn up storefronts, to a location in unmarked second floor empty apartment suite with torn up carpeting and a dripping faucet, it certainly seems that in areas with traditionally low voter turnout, one basic improvement that can be made is to make the voting locations at least more welcoming.

Though I realize that finding over 500 locations willing to rent to house people walking in and out all day a few times per year; and willing to open at 5 am and stay open until after 8 pm is no small task; and that in some cases voters are very attached to their polling locations, or locations have been chosen for centralized convenience to the most, it also seems that in the very near future, the CCBOE needs to make the effort to do a thorough review of especially inner city locations, making sure that all are easy to find, have easy accessibility, decent lighting, a sense of orderliness and cleanliness, sufficient space for workers and lines, safety, parking, capability to put signage, etc.

Going to the polls in effect, is a celebration of democracy. It should feel good, not a struggle nor scary nor depressing, for every voter who comes.

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