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For months, nay years this site, and so many others have fretted over the thorny issue of helping citizens exercise their constitutional right of Universal Suffrage.

Hard to believe that in America, Land of the Free, in the year 2012, we are still having to discuss this.

The reasons are well-established. We are having to discuss it because a part of the political spectrum, the part that bangs on incessantly about "Freedoms", are the same folk who make it their raison d'etre to deny citizens the most basic of democratic rights.

I have words for people like that, and none of them are appropriate for a family blog, certainly not before the watershed!

That the SCOTUS is taking an interest in the Voting Rights Act comes as no surprise. The Supreme Court should be a co-equal branch of government acting as one of the checks and balances that the Founders deemed important, because government is made of men, and men are not to be trusted with absolute power.

The Supreme Court is a pale shadow of the intent, more interested in parsing words to fit an agenda than it is in ensuring justice for the people. They will, that rump majority, seek to remove as many rights as possible before they face their own mortality and are replaced by more "judicial" minds.

I cannot, in the space of one Diary, even begin to address the subject of suppression in the wider sense; the laws restricting registration, the early voting and the "challenge" rules .... but I can provide an easy fix for the long lines, themselves an unnecessary obstacle to democracy.

While there is no real data on the deterrent effect of long lines, the common sense informs us that they MUST deter some potential voters. Even if they do not, it is clear that the Right believes that they do, or we wouldn't have them.

We do have a very easy solution to the problem, and whatever minor objections might be raised, it's a bit of a no-brainer.

We have, in every territory, every Congressional District, every State an infrastructure that could be employed at very little cost, that would ensure easy access to the polls.

We call them Public Schools.

The schools are right where we need them to be. They are embedded in local communities, where the people who would vote actually live. The schools are staffed by educated people who would, or at least could, conduct the ballot with a minimum of oversight.

Even a decently large High School, with a student role of 2500 has, at most, five thousand potential voters plus staff and older students. Most have substantially fewer and if they were open for voting at the normal times would ensure that kines were short.

So .... Once every two years the kids get an extra day off. The faculty man the polls and in the larger schools the Seniors help with logistics. It's a civics class brought to life. The polling staff would actually know most of the voters personally, an admirable safe-guard against the most obvious of frauds, and one that might have a chance of reducing voter impersonation; if that problem exists, which it probably doesn't.

Involving schools in this manner has another benefit. It impresses upon the students the importance of voting. It gets them used to being around, and involved in the democratic process and it is further emphasised by their teachers, folk they respect, actively contributing to the process.

In every way I can think of this system would increase turnout ... massively!

Jeez! We even have a built in transport system to get folk to the polls. We just run the School Buses all day for anyone who needs a ride.

I mean ... really ... how hard is it?

Originally posted to Every Part of You Belongs to You on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:09 AM PST.

Also republished by Do You Know Why We Vote On Tuesday.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I LOVE it (8+ / 0-)

    I've voted in Massachusetts, New York and California. In Massachusetts and in New York, my polling places were in school gyms. It's only in California that we don't vote in schools, probably because proximity to where you live tends to be a real issue here.

    It's not hard at all.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:24:03 AM PST

    •  In England we always used schools (5+ / 0-)

      Here in Oklahoma churches are used a lot, which is fine because they too are in the place they need to be.

      What the churches don't have is the advantage of staffing and a transport infrastructure.

      Schools also have the added benefit of getting the students involved ... They'll make sure their parents get there :)

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:26:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've voted in 6 states & can't remember voting in (4+ / 0-)

      any place BUT a school.  And I've lived in every conceivable environment from NYC to the, at least at the time, utmost farm/forest boonies of the PA-NY border and have never had to stand in line to vote for as much as an hour.  These problems aren't logistical or technological -- they're purposely created by commission or omission for the obvious reasons.

      •  I agree. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave in Northridge, jacey

        Around here we tend to use churches ... There are just so many of them and they are not used on Tuesday :)

        I made this proposal as a way to not only make it easy, but to involve the community, particularly school students, in the process that makes the rules they have to live by.

        Use the teachers, use the students, use the buses. Let them take "ownership" of the process.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 10:38:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Schools often host polling places in CA. (0+ / 0-)
      It's only in California that we don't vote in schools
      Polling locations are much more prevalent than schools in California and are located throughout neighborhoods. Of course, schools can be used only if they have an empty classroom or a gym/auditorium that is unused on that day.

      In any town or city voters don't have to travel far at all -- often within blocks -- to vote. Schools are often used, as are churches, garages, fire stations, empty storefronts, community centers -- most any place that is accessible and where the owner offers the use for the day. My polling place was in a school for over 30 years; I moved, staying within the same zip code, and now vote in a church.  

  •  heh... (5+ / 0-)

    My polling place is an elementary school about a block from me.  The kids don't even get the day off -- voters go in the back door to a large room that the school doesn't use that day (except, of course, for voting).

    Of course, I live downtown; but I think even out in the sticks they use schools for voting.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:26:14 AM PST

  •  My polling place staff know me. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, cassandracarolina, txcatlin

    My husband and I showed up this year around 6:30 or so and had to decide which of four rows of tables to choose. "I think we're district 5," I told my husband. One of the men sitting in that row called out, "You were last year!"


  •  I've always voted at schools in MA and NH and TX (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    except for early voting here in TX which was at the town Department of Public Works building. Your plan to leverage buses is BRILLIANT! A possible side benefit would be infusing some funding to the school bus budgets - many school systems here are limiting bus transport ostensible for budgetary reasons. Distances to a school "as the crow flies" may look small, but students who walk cannot easily cross drainage ditches and other features. Many parents here are worried that walking or biking to school and back pose lots of hazards.

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

    by cassandracarolina on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:54:06 AM PST

    •  I have other thoughts too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina, txcatlin

      about teachers, as part of a civics class, registering all Juniors to vote.

      They actually know who is eligible, in the main, and by doing it in School it gets virtually 100% registration AND helps them understand the importance.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 09:58:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My son registered in high school (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, txcatlin

        It was part of his senior year government class.  He was only 17, but they mailed his voter card after his 18th birthday.  

        He had to vote absentee while he was in college, because he was registered at home and swapping dorms every year would have required constantly changing his registration, plus his FL DL still had our home address on it.

        Here we use schools, libraries, churches  and community centers, even condo / HOA clubhouses.  There is no school on Election Day - they make it a teacher work day, for planning.  

        In Broward and Dade counties, with registered voter populations over a million each, and 500 to 800 precincts, it's still not enough.  

        Some early voting places had 5 hour waits no matter what day you went, others had 90 minute waits.  On Election Day we had precincts with 15 minute waits and others with 4 hour waits.  Overall turnout was 68-72% in both counties for the whole voting period.  

        We need to be able to vote anywhere in the county to eliminate provisional ballots.  But that means we need more ballot printers for each location so people can vote on local town issues no matter where they are voting.

        "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential." - Barack Obama

        by Ricochet67 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 05:10:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nah, makes too much sense, not to mention.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    too easy and cost effective.

    "A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Yo Bubba on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 10:05:57 AM PST

  •  Just add a national voting holiday and uniform... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...federal ballots, and we could easily solve the national election issues.

    Getting the state ballots uniform across all counties is another matter, but I'm sick of waiting on Presidential results from some redneck Florida county!

    "The less time you have, the more you need to use it wisely." - Cpt. Avatar, Starblazers

    by DeathDlr73 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 10:25:21 AM PST

    •  I don't mind waiting for results (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DeathDlr73, Ricochet67, txcatlin

      I'd rather they be accurate than fast.

      I'm used to a system where voters mark an "X" on a paper and all the ballots are counted by hand.

      It doesn't have to be particularly slow, but neither does it feed the insatiable demand of TV Networks!

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 10:31:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here we have to fill in an oval, like an SAT... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Whatever the final format, uniformity is the most important thing for the federal election, IMHO.

        "The less time you have, the more you need to use it wisely." - Cpt. Avatar, Starblazers

        by DeathDlr73 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 10:36:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's a square here .... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DeathDlr73, txcatlin

          but the procedure is the same.

          A physical ballot and an optical scanner. Kids use those things from the age of five and they are not complicated.

          They also save a hard copy for an audit trail.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          by twigg on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 10:40:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The fact that it's not really complicated (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            is what frustrates me to no end. Four years to figure this out, we just have to make sure, in the meantime, that 2014 doesn't go like 2010 from complacency.

            "The less time you have, the more you need to use it wisely." - Cpt. Avatar, Starblazers

            by DeathDlr73 on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 10:43:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  When I lived in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Massachusetts, we voted in the school gym. School classes continued elsewhere in the building. At other places in New England, I've voted at the town offices.

    Here in the Southland, that you all and shut mah mouth land, be it ever so decadent there's no place like home -- voting is in local churches.

    Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why. -- Hunter S. Thompson

    by Mnemosyne on Sat Nov 10, 2012 at 12:42:18 PM PST

  •  In DFW libraries are used as polling places. (0+ / 0-)

    "I believe more women should carry guns. I believe armed women will make the world a better place. Women need to come to think of themselves not as victims but as dangerous." Anna Pigeon

    by glorificus on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 07:46:35 AM PST

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