County's plan to improve voting centers welcome news
Changes are in store for future elections in Yuma County, which is welcome news, especially for those who waited for hours in long lines during the November election.
Yuma County Administrator Robert Pickels noted last week that there were a variety of significant issues on Election Day 2012, including malfunctioning ballot printers, paper jams, insufficient and inadequate voting centers, and a staff shortage.
The 11 voting centers, which made their debut earlier in 2012, replaced the county's 39 polling sites and saved the county about $50,000. And, the system in theory made it easier for voters, who could cast a ballot at any site regardless of where they lived in the county.
However, the centers were overwhelmed on Election Day, which saw a voter turnout of more than 56 percent.
In fact, voters waited in long lines for up to four hours, which led to some walking away from the polls rather than spend the time in line. Lines were closed at 7 p.m. but people were still waiting at 10 p.m., after President Barack Obama's second term and other races had been called.
County officials said in November, in the wake of Election Day, that they heard and understood voter complaints, including Supervisor Russell McCloud, who said at the time: “We acknowledge that there were issues, and I can also tell you that going forward those issues will be addressed. What happened on Election Day really isn't acceptable to any of us. We do want to improve and we will.”
And, the county has followed through on that promise. Officials are taking a proactive approach to improve the process going forward.
To address the issues, the county proposed having more technicians on hand to help with any printer issues.
They also plan to expand the number of voting centers from 11 to 15 by adding one in San Luis, one in the Foothills and one in the north end of the city of Yuma. At the same time, they want to add more staff overall to each site, from 10 to 15 people.
They are also considering expanding the on-site early voting system to allow more people to take advantage of it.
The changes will mean less cost savings for the county. However, a four-hour wait time is unacceptable, as the county has acknowledged.
We're happy to see the county is taking proactive steps to improve the process for voters.