During the Brown/Whitman election today here in California, voting staff was surprised to come face to face with the demographics responsible for the outcome at the exit polls.
Thousands were undocumented, most of whom were turned away, while still far greater numbers came to vote who were either long time welfare recipients, or unemployed. Some provided forged or stolen identities, and attempted to register and/or vote, in spite of the fact that identity theft is a felony, punishable by fines and prison terms. None were arrested according to police, but several staff members asserted that it was impossible for staff to determine how many falsely documented voters still “slipped through the cracks” and managed to place their votes.
“The turnout was disappointing,” said poll worker Carlos Rivera from Pasadena. “I was really hoping for more of middle class America to be represented at the voting sites today, but for the most part they were non-taxpaying citizens, or unemployed.” When questioned about career based, middle class, employed voters he responded that they were “either at their jobs, or had other weekday priorities like picking up kids at school.” He added that many of the working class were “either too late, or left stranded in long lines that didn’t make it to the voting booths prior to polls closing.”
Many of the middle to upper income citizens used “mail- in” votes, but according to Jared DeLong that method comes with its own set of problems. “We all know how flawed the mail system is,” he began, “but its what happens with those mail-in votes when they actually arrive for processing, that really leaves room for questions,” he finished.
What is wrong with a system of weekday voting in states like California? “It leaves too much room to hear only from a very polarized demographic,” says Shelley, who requested that her last name be omitted. “We’re primarily hearing from those who benefit from low income and state welfare programs,and not enough from the citizens carrying the lion’s share of the tax burden. While they’re busy at their jobs, the individuals that they are supporting on state programs are at the voting stations.”
While mail-in votes have been in place for years to combat this problem of deciding between “work vs. vote” a “come vote anytime 24/7” system would still be more beneficial for those interested in getting their opinion on the ballot, since they are the ones supporting the economy. Many of the individuals polled, who were still standing in line after polls closed, had just worked a long day at the office, or just picked the kids up at school, added that “they would feel more assured of their vote if allowed to come in person anytime their schedule permitted, to vote.” They asserted that voting in person held much more value to them than the mail-in method. “I frankly don’t trust the mail-in system,” says Kathleen who works 12 hour shifts as a triage nurse, and was still in line when the polls closed, “its too easy for it to get lost, or altered, or any number of things.”
The voting system appears to be clearly flawed, but the question is how do we resolve it? Maybe a centralized voting station network open 24/7 during election season could pose a solution, then again, maybe it wouldn’t. What is clear is that the candidates who voted in vast numbers today and those who were in person, were a very small picture of the representative class. As Shelley put it, “Jerry Brown certainly got what he expected, and sadly what he wanted – thousands of dependents looking for a better future in him as Governor. More handouts, more benefits, and a very broke California.