Derry looks for ways to streamline voting processBy ADAM SWIFT
Union Leader Correspondent
November 23. 2012 7:22PM
DERRY - Between newly registered voters, absentee ballots, long lines and high turnout at polling locations, election day went fairly smoothly in Derry, according to Town Administrator John Anderson.
However, he said he has been working with Town Clerk Denise Neale to look at ways future election days can be even easier for voters.
Nearly 16,500 of the town's approximately 20,500 voters cast ballots in the election, with 1,000 new voters registering before the election and about 2,000 registering the day of the election, according to Anderson.
"At 8 p.m., there were still 45 people waiting in line to register," he said.
Anderson pointed out that there are some major differences between the state primary in September, when about 3,000 voters turned out, and the presidential election.
However, Anderson said he and Neale are working at both the local and state level to make sure there is greater consistency during all elections.
One of the areas the town is trying to address is keeping the polling locations the same for each election.
"People have busy lives, and you don't have to make their lives more difficult by changing the polling locations," said Anderson.
In the last election, two precincts voted at Pinkerton Academy, one at the Calvary Church, and one at the Gilbert H. Hood Middle School.
Anderson said the Pinkerton Academy gymnasium is not large enough to accommodate all four precincts, but he added that there can be some modifications made to the process to make the lines flow smoother at the school.
Streamlining the absentee ballot process could also make election night easier for town staff working the polls and for voters.
Of the 1,250 residents who cast absentee ballots, Anderson said about 70 percent of them filled them out immediately in the municipal center and turned them in. However, he said there is a Byzantine process to organize and count the ballots.
"It would blow your mind if you try to follow the process and the number of times the ballots are touched and touched again," said Anderson.
If the people who vote by absentee ballot at the municipal center could turn around and put their ballots in a ballot counting machine, he said it would save an incredible amount of time.
"That's something we will be working with the Secretary of State's office and our state representative delegation about how we can streamline the process," said Anderson. "John Q. Public just wants to come in to vote and go home."