The good people of Arizona have finally finished counting the votes from that big election a couple weeks ago. Republican Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio still won, and so did Republican Jeff Flake in his bid for Senate.
Meanwhile, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, also a Republican, has pitched an idea for making voting easier in his state. As the Arizona Star reports, Bennett would like to see “voting centers” where anyone could cast a ballot, regardless of their home precinct.
In essence, each polling place would have electronic access to a list of every registered voter in the county, complete with an image of that person’s signature.
Someone who shows up would be identified by voting precinct. And the poll workers, using printers linked to computers, could then print out a ballot specific to that person, including the right legislative districts, county supervisors and school board members and bond votes.
What that means, Bennett said, is the ballot can be not only verified on site but also put into the machine that, properly programmed, will tabulate the vote. That would apply both to regular and early ballots.
The system is already working in a couple of Arizona counties. The big challenge seems to be with printing the ballots – if the printers break down, for instance, the voting center needs to have a ready supply of each precinct’s ballot. Also, Florida learned the hard way about the perils of printing ballots voter-by-voter. That doesn’t mean Arizona couldn’t do it, or that Florida couldn’t improve on its performance.