The Voting Hangover

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Nov 062005
 
Authors: Jake Blumberg

The first Tuesday in November always marks a special day in the United States; a day that truly makes our nation what it is – the world's leading democracy. With every vote that was cast last Tuesday, the United States proclaimed to the world why we still are the measuring stick for freedom – of choice and of opinion.

Voter turnout in Colorado was high, with Referendums C and D bringing out more voters than average for the "off-year" election. Yet, the real story was about those who did not vote in this year's election across the state of Colorado, and voters who encountered problems at the polls or had to deal with the archaic voting system that prevented votes across the nation.

Our first stop is El Paso County, the conservative stronghold of the state, where voters in an estimated 80 to 90 precincts had to wait in line for hours until ballots arrived. County election officials underestimated the number of voters that would arrive and had to make emergency ballots that did not arrive in time to catch many voters before they left their polling places. Why they did not plan for all voters possibly showing up is a question I have yet to hear the answer to. My only guess is that it was a budget issue, because Kinko's and Copy Max refused to give them a good deal on ballot copies this year. Thus, many voices went unheard in El Paso County, a positive for those supporting C and D, because El Paso County was believed to be one of the possible pitfalls for the ballot issues.

I am glad that C passed, but it did not pass by a large margin, and with voices going unheard in El Paso County, the election may go down in history with an asterisk mark next to it. No matter what the opinion, no voice should go unheard because of the voting system or those administering it. In El Paso County this year, the system failed the voters, and if I was one of the voices silenced by the lack of foresight of those running the election, I would be quite upset. In fact, even though the problem did not directly affect me, I am still upset, because any election that does not include every voter's opinion is a flawed election – a flaw that affects everyone in the system.

The other issue that came up in this year's election is one that is at play in every college across the nation. Many potential voters on campuses all over the United States were not able to vote because they were not registered in the county in which they attend school. My colleague Ben Bleckley wrote in a column earlier this year that CSU students should register to vote in Larimer County so they could be involved in the government in which they live nine months out of the year. His point was a good one, but many students did not take his advice and were left unable to vote on the statewide ballot issues like C and D.

My question: Why can we not figure out a way to automate the voting process in a way that would allow state residents to vote in all statewide issues, no matter where they are? The technology is there friends.

If the state would begin putting voting codes on all our ID's and drivers licenses, we could simply scan the ID anywhere in the state, our information would pop up, and we would be allowed to vote from anywhere; CSU uses this very same technology to give out student tickets to every home football game. Some say that monitoring this type of system would be difficult and would lead to voting improprieties, with individuals voting multiple times from multiple locations. Yet, the simple ticket technology we use at this university would prevent such problems – once our ID's are scanned, the computer stores the information, which prevents us from getting another ticket to watch our Rammies.

The government is always saying it wants to improve voter turnout; I can assure you that such an advancement in technology would allow many votes to be cast that would not be logged otherwise. It is time that our voting system catches up to the world in which its voters live. Every person 18 or older has the right and responsibility to vote, and I hope one day in the future our government will eliminate some of the shackles that inhibit us from exercising that right. So, the next time you are bored, send an e-mail to your Congressperson and let them know that computers can be used for more than typing memos, and tell them the computer they use every day is the answer to increasing votes.

Jake Blumberg is a sophomore technical journalism and political science double major. His column runs every Monday in the Collegian.

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