Additional observation of early voting in LAC

On Friday afternoon, I went with two colleagues to observe early voting at a site in Los Angeles County, at the West Covina County Library, a site that we observed during the primary elections earlier this year. I had a couple of observations to note about this early voting location:

  • The pollworkers here appeared to be a completely different team than we had seen in June 2006 (in other early voting locations we typically see approximately the same pollworker teams between elections). In all honesty, this might be good, because as I wrote in June 2006, in this location the pollworkers were not very cooperative with our observation efforts. On Friday, the exact opposite was the case: the pollworkers were friendly, and took the time to answer our questions. The atmosphere (from an observer’s perspective at least) was much improved! This did leave me to realize that a very interesting research question would be to try to examine whether early voting (or other polling place) sites with new pollworker teams were any more likely to experience problems, or to have different types of outcomes, relative to early voting locations with consistent teams across elections.
  • Turnout, while not overwhelming, was brisk (relative to the June primary). We were at the location for about an hour on Friday afternoon, and observed twenty voters during that period. I timed four of these voters (selected at random) and they took 4:30, 8:50, 9:10, and 11:50, respectively; not times that are radically different than what I had seen earlier in the week in East Los Angeles.
  • During this period, four of these twenty voters made some verbal statement regarding the voter verified paper audit trail (three of which I recorded):

    • “Where’s my copy of the ballot?”
    • “Where did it go”
    • “I’m disappointed I didn’t get a printed ballot”

    In each case the pollworkers explained the concept of the voter verified paper audit trail to the voter, but it is interesting to note the misperception that many voters have about the audit trail.

  • During the hour we were there, the pollworkers attempted to clean the touchscreens with a dry paper towel three times. When asked, one said that they had no explicit procedures regarding when or how to clean the touchscreens, but clearly they did seem to be quite focused on trying to clean the screens with a dry paper towel!