Friday, February 27, 2009

The Frugal Voting Booth

An Inexpensive Voting Booth Solution

Local Boards of Elections have begun to consider what additional supplies and equipment they will need to implement the paper ballot voting system. The State BOE has started the process of developing an Invitation for Bids (IFB) for voting privacy booths.

The voting equipment manufacturers have been marketing their voting booth offerings for many months already but none of the proposed systems are inexpensive. Prices range from $150 to $300 per booth. Most are unnecessarily complex or bulky, requiring way too much storage space, and very few are designed with the voter’s comfort as a priority.

The above picture shows a very inexpensive solution which offers the needed privacy while also providing greater voter comfort. The photo is of a corrugated plastic tabletop divider fabricated from a 4' X 8' sheet of 1/4" signboard which produces three voting positions on a 7' table for less than $50. The IFB could specify such a design also.

Consider that practically every polling place has ready availability of folding tables and chairs. All that is needed to turn these ubiquitous items into comfortable voting booths is the addition of privacy screens.

The folding table solution suggested above is so inexpensive that each of our polling places could easily be provided with sixteen or more voting stations for the price of one commercial voting booth. What economy! What luxury!

If commercially available booths are the only option considered a minimum number of booths will be ordered to keep costs down. This will likely result in voters having to wait in line to vote. And, if the less expensive booths, which require the voter to remain standing while completing their ballot, are chosen the elderly and infirm will suffer discomfort and possibly be discouraged from voting at all.

The picture at right shows another frugal solution: a corrugated cardboard privacy carrel available from office supply services. If a more durable product is desired the IFB could specify corrugated plastic construction.

Given the present economic pressures we believe such a frugal solution is almost unavoidable. We hope the State BOE, their testing oversight contractor NYSTEC and the State OGS will give this suggestion serious consideration.

For the Voting Integrity Project,

Wayne R. Stinson, Coordinator

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