Editorial: Clerks must prepare for voter tidal wave

The Detroit News
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Local officials have fair warning of what to expect on Nov. 6 when Michigan voters go to the polls for the general election.

The ballot is long. Every state office must be filled along with many local positions and several state and local ballot proposals will be decided.

If clerks aren't prepared, voters could face long lines and ballot shortages when they arrive at the polls.

This year, voters who typically checked the straight ticket box will no longer have that option, meaning it will take them a few minutes longer to fill in all of the circles.

Adding to the Election Day challenges are predictions of record turnouts across the state.

Chris Thomas, former state elections director, suggests four million voters will cast ballots, surpassing the 2006 record for a mid-term election of 3.8 million.

If clerks aren't prepared, voters could face long lines and ballot shortages when they arrive at the polls.

In the August primary, Detroit and some suburban communities were surprised by the crowds, and ran out of ballots. 

Detroit also had trouble with its reporting technology, leading to delays in producing the vote tally.

Clerks know what to expect in November, and have enough time to prepare for both the expected large turnout and the slower voting process.

They should make sure to print enough ballots. They also must weigh whether they need additional voting booths and ballot readers. 

And they certainly must assure they have an adequate staff of well-trained poll workers ready when voters arrive at their precincts, and able to properly handle the ballots at the end of the day.

Interest in this election is high; there's very little apathy. That's good for democracy.

That commitment by voters to participate should be rewarded by a smooth process. Voters should not be disenfranchised because incompetent election staffers spoiled their ballots.

A wave of voters is coming. Clerks have the time to prepare their staffs and test their equipment to assure voters have a positive experience when they arrive at their polling places. 

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