New Study: Lack of Planning in Virginia May Cause Election Day Problem

For Immediate Release

FairVote
Contact: 

Adam Fogel, Right to Vote Director
W - (301) 270-4616 C - (216) 288-7610
afogel@fairvote.org

New Study: Lack of Planning in Virginia May Cause Election Day Problem

Concerns Linger on Poll Booth Allocation Plans, Campus Polling Locations

TAKOMA PARK, Md. - Virginia voters could experience problems at the polls this Election
Day due to lack of uniformity, insufficient preparation and limited
access for students, according to a report released today by FairVote,
a nonpartisan advocacy group.

FairVote surveyed 96 out of 134 Virginia city and county election
officials and found that the state does not have a standardized method
for allocating poll booths, which may cause long lines on Election Day.
Long lines are often caused by an inadequate number of poll booths and
have plagued voters, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods, in the
past several election cycles. Researchers found that only 19 counties,
out of the 96 surveyed (20-percent), plan to create a written poll
booth allocation plan for their county. Creating a written plan gives
voters an opportunity to review election preparedness and outlines
contingency plans in the event of unexpected turnout on Election Day.
One of the primary reasons given by county clerks for not creating
written plans is that such preparation is not required by state statute.

Students hoping to vote on campus in Virginia may be disappointed.
Thirty-two of the jurisdictions surveyed have a community college or
university and of those, only 2 will have on-campus polling locations
for November. This percentage of on-campus polling locations was by far
the lowest of any state surveyed for this project. Students have
traditionally been one of the least represented groups in the political
process and Virginia's lack of access to the polls for students could
have a detrimental effect on their ability to participate in this
year's presidential election.

"The vast majority of jurisdictions we surveyed really make it
difficult for students to participate in the election," said co-author
of the report, FairVote's Adam Fogel. "Virginia has a long way to go in
ensuring the standardization of booth and machine allocation across
precincts and more transparency in the way local officials plan for
Election Day. We can accomplish these goals by increasing funding for
elections and better federal and state guidelines, including minimum
standards for election preparedness."

FairVote is a non-partisan electoral reform organization founded on a
belief that democracy depends on respect for every voice and every
vote. Part of FairVote's Democracy SoS project, Uniformity in Election
Administration: A 2008 Survey of Swing State County Clerks-Virginia
Edition is the fourth in a series of reports published by FairVote this
fall, designed to shed light on practices of county election
administrators, as well as their interpretation and compliance with
state law. The Virginia Edition is the final report in the state
series, which also included reports on Missouri, New Mexico and
Colorado. The National Edition, surveying election officials in
counties with at least 500,000 residents in ten "swing states" will be
released next week.

Read all of the state reports and press releases: http://www.fairvote.org/sosresearch

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