More voters means chance for more problems

November 4, 2008 3:06:19 PM PST
There was a report of a problem at the election center at the Jewish Community Center in Presidio Heights Tuesday morning.

In San Francisco a record turnout is expected. By the time everything has been said and done, 80-85% of voters will have cast a ballot. With those large numbers of voters comes an increased chance of something going wrong, something accidental, or something intentional and illegal.

The voting problem in Presidio Heights was accidental; a malfunctioning memory card. However, voting never stopped. Ballots were accepted and fed into the machine after repairs were done.

That's the kind of thing that Chandra Friese looks for down at San Francisco City Hall. Along with other members of the League of Women Voters, she watches for any reports of problems like polling place openings and ballot shortages.

"You know we just spent $12.5 million on some voting machines. So we're looking to see how many malfunctions might come up, how many issues might come up, both with the touch screens and the optic scan machines," said Friese.

Also at City Hall, political consultant Jim Ross is working as an observer of a different kind. He represents a number of measures on the San Francisco ballot and a number of the candidates. He's watching for reports of things that might hurt his clients.

"You might get poll workers who might get tired, who get cranky. You also look for your opponents doing electioneering within a hundred feet of a poll," said Ross.

It's a lot of work. But for voters it's important, especially this time around

The Director of Elections for San Francisco, John Arntz, says that if you're looking to vote and get it done quickly in San Francisco Tuesday, the time to go is mid-afternoon. He expects there to be a rush from the lunch crowd between 5 and 8 p.m.

Nonetheless, if you're in line by 8 p.m. you will be allowed to vote.


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