Wow, what a great experience!
New voters in droves. True non-partisanship (one poll monitor said it took almost 5 hours to figure out people's political leanings). Diversity amazing: we had college students, troops and families from the air force base, poor and retired folks from trailer parks, middle class hispanics, whites, blacks and asians, folks from new subdivisions of differing income levels.
About 40% had opted for absentee ballots or early voting.
At our polling location, two precincts were voting at the same location, which led to confusion about which line to stand in. One had under 1000 registered the other had grown from 1600 to 2500 registered since the last election.
At our polling location, we probably assisted 3-4 dozen people, about half-dozen where our lawyer went in with voter to help straighten out issues. We handed out about 1000 New Mexico Voter Bill of Rights sheets. We redirected a dozen or so to their correct polling locations, assisted with obtaining provisional ballots, and redirected one or two to the County Clerk.
The most suspicious and outright negative attitudes towards us were from older white folks (although some were nice on the way out, and a few even ended up asking for help). The election judges were great, supportive. In New Mexico non-partisan activity like our can be within 50 feet of the building; partisan electioneering 100 feet.
Clear problems with current system in New Mexico:
- having to vote in your precinct
- there are a large number of precinct expansions and consolidations (mergers) of precincts leading to many changes in precinct locations for people
- with changes in precinct boundaries many people are not familiar with voting locations because theirs may have changed or the voting location nearest them is not for their precinct
- there is wide disparity in quality and experience of precinct judges and they only work infrequently (at election times) so don't build up experience well they have different systems for absentee (paper), early voting (machines), voting (another kind of machine), and provisional ballots (paper -- same as absentee, but handled differently) which makes the whole system more complicated to learn and manage for election judges
- one judge hadn't ordered enough machines for the growth of his precinct leading to up to 2 hour lines
- provisional balloting system unclear to both voters and election judges with respect to when/if it would be counted and which votes would be counted (only national, or everything that applies)
- no provisional balloting mechanism for voting from outside your county
Lessons on voting system, shows what a GREAT system Oregon has
- produced national record turnout (>85%)
- one system for absentee, early, voting (and provisional?) is simpler
- electronic signature-matching assures correct voter votes without ID restrictions
- don't have precinct level voting which means fewer inexperienced amateur judges since handled at county clerk level
- possible issue with respect to appropriate security of ballots during 18 day reciepts
- require ID to register as proof of citizenship
- but use electronic signature matching at election time
- eliminate confusing requirement to vote at precinct location and move to county-wide or state-wide with secure ballot drop-off locations
- use only one ballot type
- allow provisional ballots anywhere in the state, but only count those votes that are in common with the precinct in which they are registered (over time, perhaps migrate to electronic system that can be used anywhere in the state to produce the right ballot for your precinct)