Are you ready for some turnout?

I arrived at the polling place at 4:55. No lines, really — two, maybe three people deep at the table at most — and no waiting for a booth. I cast ballot #993 for the precinct, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the pollwatchers had side bets on when they’d hit a thousand. Elapsed time: five minutes, twenty seconds, and yes, I did both sides of the ballot. Not too shabby, if I say so myself.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Oklahoma voting system: you mark your ballot — a substantial piece of card stock — by filling in the center of an arrow pointing to the candidate or choice provided. You then take the ballot to an optical reader, which scans both sides as you slide it in, and flashes a green light if it finds no anomalies. If something’s wrong, you get a red light, they hand it back to you, and if necessary give you a new ballot. A four-digit counter ticks over once for each good ballot. When the polls close at 7:00, the reader is disconnected, and the plastic box underneath it, where all the ballots have fallen, is sent, along with the appropriate register tape, to the county election board, which in turn is responsible for getting it to the state election board. Results are posted here starting at 7 pm and updated as new boxes are received. Seldom will you hear any horror stories about Oklahoma voting: it’s fast, there’s an actual paper trail, and it’s relatively hard to screw up. In Presidential years there are longer lines, of course, but some people only come out every four years.





3 comments

  1. gopan »

    7 November 2006 · 6:00 pm

    Voted in Norman at 9:30am. Counter said I was 94.

    In the last 4 recent elections I voted around 5pm and the counter was always in the mid-80s.

    Be nice to have a high turn-out for once.

  2. CGHill »

    7 November 2006 · 6:08 pm

    Indeed. I’ve seen some municipal elections where we struggled to get 50 in a day.

  3. John Owen Butler »

    7 November 2006 · 6:58 pm

    I like our system, except…one is not allowed to cast write-in votes. There isn’t an easy way to scan such, and thus the prohibition. But it still feels odd that my choices are left to vote for one of the choices, or leave that race unmarked.

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