Polling pinch: As total voting sites drop, do elections suffer?


The transfer was a primary for the town, which had by no means earlier than held its personal single-website election. However within the aftermath of the vote, the talk over the park appeared settled, and Grand Forks leaders have been glad to skirt the prices and logistical headache they are saying can include polling websites throughout city.

Then got here the lawsuit.

A gaggle of about two dozen voters sought to have the election voided, their case said, partially as a result of utilizing a single-website system was an overreach of metropolis authority. That declare was the results of months of considerations that the brand new system and its decrease variety of voting places would scale back turnout and probably change the election’s outcomes.

Henry Howe, the voters’ lawyer, later stated in courtroom that the town tried to “stack the deck.” The go well with is pending on attraction to the North Dakota Supreme Courtroom, and the town’s authorized staff has denied wrongdoing.

However state voting knowledge present precincts have been falling for many years, with 1,235 precincts within the 1980 presidential election and simply 432 in 2016—a sign that polling websites have adopted go well with. These numbers are in step with staffing, budgetary and logistical considerations expressed by election officers round North Dakota, elevating questions of how the state and its voters adapt.

The development holds up across the nation. Dana Harsell, an affiliate professor of political science and public administration at UND, stated the 2008 presidential election had 132,237 voting places. In 2016, simply 116,990.

A part of the strain, voting specialists say, has come from the Assist America Vote Act, handed by Congress in 2002, which added to elections’ value and logistical burdens—like technological necessities for voting machines.

Harsell added that ages of election staff are more and more skewing older, too, which may make it more durable to employees huge elections each two to 4 years. There’s additionally proof, he stated, that growing pay for election staff has made polling websites more and more costly in sparsely populated rural areas, forcing consolidation.

“We definitely know it’s a development, and you can say it has been a development because the Nineteen Fifties,” Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum stated. “As a result of we have steadily dwindled down through the years.”

Voting in Grand Forks

The identical tendencies are affecting voting in Grand Forks. Metropolis leaders accepted a seven-location plan for the 2018 elections final week in a 5-2 committee vote anticipated to be confirmed by the complete Council Monday. A separate plan for only one website has additionally drawn help,…



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