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September 29, 2003 10:51 AM

Broken: Voter registration form

Peter Steinberg writes:

Here's a voter registration form for New York State. The headings on the instructions say...

"You can use this form to:"

"To register you must:"

"To complete this form:"

"Deadline information:"

"Need more registration forms?"


But nowhere on the form, absolutely NOWHERE does it tell what to do when you COMPLETE the form... nowhere to mail it. Nowhere to carry it in person. I suppose you're just supposed to fill it out and they use ESP to read your information off of it.

Update: David B. writes in from New York City: "While I think the American electoral process is broken (low voter turnout, overly partisan, special interest driven, etc.), the comments on the voter reg form miss the boat. NY State voter reg forms are mailers... the flip side of where the voter writes their info is Business Reply Mail pre-addressed to their local Board of Elections (or in a minority of forms, with blank address lines that refer to a chart that has all the county Boards' addresses)."

Second Update: Peter Steinberg writes back:

I don't think I missed the boat at all... while this form may have a pre-addressed envelope on the flip side of it, I wouldn't know. I downloaded it as a PDF from the NY State Board of Elections website. Ultimately, returning to the site led me to a page where I could look up the address I needed, but a lot of good that did me after I already downloaded the PDF, printed it, logged off, and shut down my computer.


Let this be a lesson that printed forms don't always gracefully degrade to the web.

Via, here's another example of this phenomenon...

Posted by: codeman38 at November 3, 2003 02:07 AM

Oops. Didn't realize HTML was stripped from the posts. -- There's the link to the other example.

Posted by: codeman38 at November 3, 2003 02:08 AM

Uh. Read the whole form? Especially the part in the "Deadline" section where it says:

"You can register in person at your county board of elections on any business day except election day. If you want to vote in an election, you must by mail or deliver this form to your county board of elections no later than 25 days before the election in which you wish to vote."

or maybe in the "Questions" section where it says:

"Call your county board of elections. Find the phone number on the other side of this form. Or call 1-800-FOR-VOTE"

Either of those things could have been done after you'd "downloaded...printed, logged off and shutdown..." Dumbass.

Posted by: Me at November 6, 2003 12:08 PM

Logging out? Shutting down the computer? In what kind of insane, sad world do you live in?

Posted by: Senso at March 30, 2004 11:03 PM

Perhaps they are just creating public awareness !

Posted by: Shelly at May 21, 2004 06:58 AM

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