I sold my house in New Jersey and moved to Florida this summer.
Registering to vote:
When I moved to New Jersey decades ago, you had to go to town hall to register to vote, and you were sent a paper postcard with your information. That postcard was never updated. It was so long ago I don’t even remember what documentation you needed, but the NJ Department of State shows the current criteria.
I registered in Florida by signing a form when I went for my driver’s license. A couple of weeks later, I received a plastic card showing all information (district, polling place, etc.).
Every time I vote, I go in the early afternoon, after lunch but before school lets out. Children in Florida had election day off.
To vote in New Jersey, I walked to the local elementary public school (half a mile from my house). There were no signs, t-shirts, posters, banners, or any political materials allowed within 20 yards of the school grounds. The entrance to the polling station was clearly marked.
Once inside, you went to the table marked for your district. At the table were people manning the books listing the registered voters in alphabetical order by last name. You would introduce yourself to the person holding the book, who would find your name, ask you to sign the book, and compare the signature with the one in the book.
No proof of ID was requested at any moment.
Then the person would hand you a slip of paper with a number on it, and you would head to the booth. The booth had dark red curtains (which made it look like a portable fitting room) which you would shut after stepping in by pressing a lever on an electronic board. You entered all your votes by pressing a lever for each choice, confirm them by pressing another lever, the curtains would open, and you were done.
To vote in Florida, I drove a mile and a half to the local elementary public school. There were four elderly ladies wearing campaign t-shirts waiting in the parking lot across the entrance to the school. One handed me a paper fan, “Vote Yes On #166“. The entrance to the polling station was clearly marked.
Once inside, I was directed by the first gentleman who saw me to approach his table. I told him I had just moved to Florida, so he explained the process, first asking me to show my driver’s license after he typed my name on his tablet. He looked at the photo, asked me to sign an electronic pad, and compared that signature with the one on the driver’s license (and I believe, with the one on record in his tablet).
Then he printed a register slip, which I was to hand over to another gentleman, who, after checking it, placed the slip in a large folder, along with two large cards (each about 1/3 the size and weight of a poster board) printed on both sides, and handed me the whole thing with a black ballpoint pen. I was ten directed to a booth, which was a counter-height table with little curtains on three sides obstructing the view from anyone trying to see what you were writing. You filled in your choices on the large printed cards.
After you were done, you went to the scanner, where another gentleman checked the printed slip before asking you to feed each card to through the scanner.
I guarantee you there will be no chads to hang anywhere in that process.
In all, the Florida process struck me as safer and much less prone to fraud.
And yes, #166 won.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s blog.