Voting Blogs: Are Election Day Precincts an Anachronism? | State of Elections

February 25, 2013


William & Mary’s recent Election Law Symposium played host to several of the leading luminaries in election administration, focusing upon issues of election delays, including but not limited to long lines.  On more than one occasion, participants discussed Election Day vote centers—large voting “big boxes” of sorts at which voters from multiple different precincts may vote—as a potential instrument to combat Election Day delays (see here for a brief discussion of voting at non-precinct polling places).  The subject was particularly appropriate for the panel assembled at W&M, as it included Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a lightning rod for controversy in election administration, whose state has had valuable experience with Election Day vote centers. A recent study by political scientists Robert Stein of Rice University and Greg Vonnahme of the University of Alabama has shown that use of such vote centers can increase voter turnout. Some at the conference expressed concerns about vote centers.   Panelists referred to the logistical difficulties of operating voting centers—notably that the centers must have the capacity to provide several different ballots for different precincts, including situations in which different ballots require different paper sizes (a problem rendered moot where sophisticated voting machines are used, as they can easily be programmed to contain multiple electronic ballots).