Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Election Day Review

Election Day Review

OK, yeah, Jeff Smith won. And won big. I was shocked. Best of luck to him in the next four years (2007-2010) in the MO Senate. If the voters think he can do it, then so be it.

I hope he's able to reconcile the variety of interests in the district like Pat Dougherty has -- particularly the racial divide -- by focusing on things all families and communities need to make the City of St. Louis and all of Missouri a better place to live. Of course, he'll have a hard road in trying to push an agenda in a Republican-controlled and -dominated state legislature.

I am hopeful, though, for Democratic gains on 07/07/06. That would be a nice present for my 28th birthday. ;-)

Some of Jeff's points "On The Issues" seem a bit naive upon a closer read. I didn't want to say this earlier, but the term "Urban Renewal" should have gone by the wayside in the 1970s. And while Monsanto is no longer the same firm it once was, it is still headquartered in Creve Coeur; and AT&T (nee SBC nee SWBT) still has a huge worker presence in downtown St. Louis. The high unemployment in the City of St. Louis is a result of WAY more than just CEOs who couldn't get into Old Warson or St. Louis Country Club.

I also have trouble with Jeff's claim that "Republicans like to throw millions of taxpayer dollars at corporations in order to bribe them to relocate to their state." That same claim can also be made about many prominent Democrats. I'll leave it at that.

Anyway, onward and upward: Yesterday, I was the Technical Specialist at the Froebel Elementary School (on Nebraska near Chippewa) polling place - Ward 20 Precincts 1 and 3.

I was the 'expert' on how to use, troubleshoot, and fix minor problems on the new Diebold voting machines: two "AccuVote TSX" touch screen terminals; and one "AccuVote-OS" ballot box. It was fun -- but it was a very long day!

I got up at 3 AM, took care of chores and showered, then walked the five blocks to Froebel just before 5. After getting acquainted with the other poll workers (eight of 'em -- 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans, all 50+, great to work with, and happy to see somebody young and familiar with the new voting machines), I made my morning calls to downtown on the assigned cell phone to report I was there on time, made sure the machines were ready to go, and we were pretty much ready when the polls opened at 6 AM. Alderman Schmid delivered coffee and donuts about 8 AM.

Turnout was light most of the day, although we had a bit of a run between 5:30 and 6:00 PM. I got acquainted with several of my fellow workers, and had a number of interesting conversations about the election process, living in the 20th ward, etc. Most of our voters were seniors, but certainly not all. Actually, despite the low turnout, I think the range of diversity in the 20th ward was represented: voters were young and old, black and white, male and female. There just weren't a whole lot of them, period.

I was glad I volunteered for this job, although the pay rate ($225) may be less than competitive -- it required about a seven-hour training session a couple weeks ago plus 14 1/2 hours on election day (Thanks to some help from the 20th ward roving crew that came to Froebel first, I was all packed up and ready to go by 7:30 PM - not bad!).

I kept an approximate running tally of votes on all three machines through the day. But Mike and Joyce (the rovers) were so on top of things at 7:00 PM, I didn't have time to write down the final tally. But we were at 148 votes at 6:15 PM, so I don't we got over 200 votes in the entire day. Each of the precincts has about 1,100 registered voters, so we were probably in the 7-8% turnout range. That's actually better than the approximately 6% turnout for those precincts in the April school board election.

But it's still dreadfully depressing turnout. To be fair, our precincts are not in the 4th Senate district, so we didn't have anything to really bring out the voters. Although several folks did want to vote for Jeff Smith, I had to explain to them we live in a different district!

I shudder to think about how these new voting machines will perform in a more heavily attended election. TSX #1 never jammed up, but TSX #2 (the less busy machine!) had several printer jams during the day. The only problems I had with the OS machine were with ballots that had torn or frayed edges. Even so, between 5:30 and 6 PM we did have three or four voters in line waiting for a TSX.

The rovers (Joyce, Mike, and Frank for tech stuff) were helpful, but not surprisingly downtown was frustrating. Several voters' registrations did not match their names, although they said they had turned in updates weeks and months ago. Most voters did NOT provide photo ID, so I'm concerned this may be a huge problem in our low-income elderly population come November. Most of these folks live on their own, not in nursing homes, so the little DOR vans won't reach them. South St. Louisans are a stubborn lot, we are.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone's a little jealous of Jeff Smith...

Travis Reems said...


The 20th ward has, as I am told, the historically lowest voter turn-out. This is an issue that deeply concerns Ald. Schmid. We've discussed was to increase the voter registration and voter turn-out in our neighboring wards (20th and 25th). If you have ideas, I'd sure like to hear them, as I am sure Ald. Schmid would too.

Urban Review said...

Oh geez, I hadn't noticed the "Urban Renewal" headline on Jeff's site. Yikes! What an old term with such meaning.

Looking at McRee Town we can see that good old fashioned Urban Renewal is still alive and well --- toss people out, tear down everthing in site and rebuild with something of lesser quality that what you started with. He is going to be getting an email from me on this one!

As for the voter turnout, it helps to actually have contested races! That gets people involved. But our lack of candidates gives voters little reason to get involved and go to the polls.

Doug Duckworth said...

Another interesting aspect of the Diebold machines...

For the TS model, if you flip a switch on the motherboard, the system will boot from exernal memory.

Basically, one can load another operating system on these machines.

The newer TSX model is also open to several methods of attack!

Isn't that nice? Talk about potential voter fraud.

Until the machines issue a paper receipt, these are dangerous.

Good job Diebold!