March 30, 2010

Summit Notes, March 20, 2010.

PARTICIPANTS: Jenny Davis, scribe and resident W4; Jean O'Sullivan W7; Linda Chagnon W7; Jake Perkinson, Chittenden Cty Chair, Dems; Melani Barch, W4 Inspector; Cliff Cooper, Community News, W4; Ellen Cooper, W4; Angela Chagnon, W7; Lea Terhune, facilitator, W4; Vince Dober, City Councilor, W7; David Cain, Burlington Chair Dems; Art Hogan, Dem W4 Caucus Chair; Dick Kelley, W4 Inspector; Jim Couture, W4 Clerk; Greg Jenkins, W7; Chuck Seleen, W4. Unable to attend, but asked to be included in future meeting: Nancy Kaplan, W4 City Council; Paul Decelles, W7 City Council.


Location of polling places: 
Ward 7, Miller Ctr - parking problems, not enough space, not safe for people walking to/from center, traffic congestion, fender-bender, people not happy. Vince Dober did a survey, 85% of respondents want to move polling place back to Hunt School.
Ward 4, St. Marks - suggestions are Leddy Arena, Flynn School, High School.

Signage at polling places:
Sign problems at both polling places -- signs misplaced, signs not visible from Avenue, Ward 7 moved signs near St. Marks, Ward 7 moved sign in front of Miller, ward 4 sign small and faded, ward 4 sign down on the ground weekend preceding election day, small  W4sign obscured by bushes, residents don't always know if they live in ward 4 or 7 so a sign that says W7 moved to Miller that was placed near W4 St. Marks was confusing. Signs that are bold and attractive add to excitement and anticipation of election day, inspire people to vote. Flags would be good, too, and could be handmade and reused, appeal to all ages.

Schools as polling places: 
Some people are uncomfortable voting in a church.
If schools are polling places, would that impact the school budget vote?
Schools have opportunity for civics education
Everybody knows where the schools are
Schools are public spaces.
Flynn doesn't have adequate parking.
Miller doesn't have adequate parking.
Hunt has good circulation and adequate parking.
BHS has lots of parking, everybody knows where it is.
If schools require teachers to be in school that day, parking is taken.

Lack of privacy -- people can see marks on ballot at booth and when putting in machine
Ballots aren't numbered any more, potential for fraud
When you vote at the city clerk's office, they put your ballot in a drawer.
What happened to the locked ballot box? Voters feel insecure.
More training, supervision, direction needed from "the top," better process across the city
Control needed on ballots.
Absentee ballots need to go into a locked box, not a drawer in clerk's office.
Privacy instills voter confidence. Voter privacy lacking.
With numbered ballots you can cross-check against voter check;list.
If #'d ballots checked hourly, can trace numbers, and can also account for all spoiled or "lost" ballots.
Absentee ballots -- need to know who is handling them, and what happens to those ballots.
ABs shouldn't be touched until election day -- what IS the process?
Trust in city hall and clerk's office is lacking these days. Ward 7 sealed ballots box opened 3 times.
No privacy when ABs are used, so people are more and more reluctant to vote absentee.
Handling of ABs, ritual must be consistent.
Handling must protect voter privacy.
Ballots should be "sacred," all rules followed scrupulously, no sloppiness tolerated.
Reps from all parties/candidates present when ABs opened/counted.
Ballot questions confusing, language confusing, like vote NO if you are in favor of an issue.
Ballots need simple, clear language.
Location of ballot questions -- on the recent ballot the school budget question was under the instructions and looked like an example. [Look at how many people didn't vote on this.] Issues located over candidates?
W7 polling place moved to Miller Ctr? Who made this decision?
W4 polling place kept at St. Mark's. Why not moved to Flynn?
Resolution for change of polling place goes through City Council -- but it needs to come from residents.
Privacy in voting booth and at machine needed.
Campaign literature littered the polling place, came in from outside with voters who left it in booths, ask for NO literature/leaflets handed out at the polls or brought into the polling place.
Greeters could advise voters as they enter polling place to avoid wearing buttons, or bringing literature into the polling place.
Need greeters at entrance to polling place as well as inside.

How to increase voter turnout:
Involve students in mock elections and give out "I voted" stickers to remind/motivate parents.
Competition among schools/wards to increase voter turnout.
Free bus passes (published in the Community News).
Track and report attendance at each poll throughout the day.
Have a rides shuttle service, especially for seniors.
Call-in transportation services on election day.
Non-partisan community volunteers provide transportation.
SSTA for eligible riders
Election Day a day of community celebration. Parades!
Sales in stores on election day. Specials in restaurants. Discounts at the dry cleaner!
VOTE signs and banners.
NPAs provide historical data and encourage ward to encourage best voter turnout.
Larger signs in front of polling places.
Make polling places more attractive, festive.
Welcome new voters, with "vote" in different languages.
Emphasis on "voter friendly," with helpers easily identified so a first-time voter  is not intimidated or frustrated.
Big "INFO HERE" signs, and people to help.
Translators to help ESL understand the ballot questions.
Often older ESL voters bring children to assist, but what if there is no one to translate?
Polling places easy for people to get to, bus stop nearby.
Move election Day to a Saturday in May.

Suggested theme -- VAINE: Voter Apathy is No Excuse!
VT Sec. of State theme -- Your Vote is Your Voice.
Looking for something upbeat, and InSpiring!
Where are the Ward 7 election officials? Why aren't they here?
Ward 7 election official perceived as having conflict of interest, i.e. manager of a campaign for a ballot item. Apparently it's legal, but several people thought it contributed to the climate of distrust.