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ALA Election Turnout Update

As of this morning, ALA had received 3900 online ballots since the balloting began one week ago. To put this in perspective, last year, ALA received 9,844 ballots for the entire election–a turnout of less than 18% for a paper-ballot voting period 52 days long. Not only that, but 2003’s turnout was the best turnout since 1998. And to really frost the cupcake, we haven’t seen participation above 25% in the last 24 years (the only period for which I have data), if not much longer.

I guess I have suffrage in my blood. Long time ago, in another life, many was the day I set up a folding table on the corner of 110th and Broadway in Manhattan and registered voters as they went in and out of the subway. It never stopped being a thrill for me to be part of this positive process.

A few people are griping about the online election software. There’s room for improvement. But if the early participation trends hold true, we’ve gone a long way toward fixing what was truly broken. By and large, ALA members appear to be voting with their feet (or whatever appendages they use to enter data into computers).

I’m just an enlightened bystander in this election, but it is thoroughly groovy to watch the process. Technology can’t change everything–it can’t even change diapers. But sometimes, technology takes a good thing and makes it better, or takes a problem and brings it closer to a solution. Let’s watch to see how it works this time–and let’s wish it well.

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