|Pretty clear that you need ID to vote here then!|
First thing to note is that as a US voter you don't get a polling card each election like we do in the UK - this explains for me some of the issues with people not knowing if they are registered to vote or not knowing where to got to vote: has spawned a whole set of websites to help people locate their polling station. As a political activist in the UK you spend a lot of time telling people who've lost their polling card that it doesn't matter and they can still vote without it, but I think I like the security and simplicity of the system we have that means you know you're registered to vote before you make the trip out to the polling station. And although I laugh when I get my card at home which has a detailed map to help me navigate the 400metres to my polling station up at the WinWood Community Centre, it's better to have that than turn up at the wrong place (see below).
The second thing is that you have to show some form of ID to vote here in Georgia (see main photo). This is interesting because of the work that Rep. Keith Ellison is doing in Minnesota to prevent just such a thing being required there. I'm a bit conflicted on this one - I think it's odd that in the UK you can just turn up and say your (or any) name and address and they'll dish out a ballot paper, but I know that any kind of restrictions will fall disproportionately on the most excluded in society already - the poor, the old and minorities. And based on my experience this morning further restrictions will reduce turnout and suppress participation which has got to be a bad thing.
(As an aside, I was pleased to notice that one thing was exactly the same as the UK - the somewhat matriarchal poll staff who were very suspicious of my presence and almost asked me to wait outside in the rain).
All throughout the process there were a lot of queues. Now I'm British so that means I automatically like queues but this was a bit ridiculous! You had to queue to get a form to complete certifying that you were a legitimate voter and not disqualified - again this is often seen as a form of voter suppression and it was somewhat fearsome.
Once you've filled in the form mentioned above you queue up to get your ID checked and be issued with your ballot. The elections office here have eschewed the tried and tested method of using a piece of paper and a pencil that has worked so well in the UK for many decades and use a complicated system of touch screen computers. I was therefore able to be very smug when the system crashed and refused to work. I said (perhaps little too loudly...) to those around me: "a pencil never ran out of power or crashed!".
|The queue to get your ID checked and be issued with a "ballot"|
I say you took it over, another poll worker took it from you and escorted you over to the main machines. This was a bit odd, not sure why this was the case. I wouldn't want that card (which activated the machines and linked my vote to my ID) out of my sight! Maybe I'm just paranoid!
|You can just see the row of 5 or 6 touchscreen machines - sorry, not very good photo|
I managed to grab a sample ballot which I've photographed and put here - main thing to notice is how big it is. I got a similar document when I was in Detroit which was even longer - no wonder turnout is so low when this is what you get confronted with. I'm not sure that even I could summon the energy to get enthused about choosing which person I wanted to be County Coroner or Limestone Valley Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor (actually, it looks like even the candidates couldn't get enthused as no-one has stood for that position!).
|Page One of the Ballot|
|Page Two of the Ballot|