By Mason City Globe-Gazette
With visions of the election still dancing in our heads, we’d like to reopen an old wound: Iowa’s ridiculously late poll closing time of 9 p.m.
This may seem familiar to regular readers of our opinions. We’ve written the same thing after the 2008 and 2010 elections, and probably a few times before them.
That’s because we see no reason for the polls to be open 14 hours, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. In this day and age, voting should not take that long.
Maybe in horse-and-buggy days, 14 hours would have been appropriate as it took a lot more time to ride from place to place. But polling places are conveniently located now, and besides that, more and more people are voting before Election Day.
Now, opening at 7 is fine. That allows most people on their way to work or school to stop and vote. Then shut them down at 7 or 8 p.m. and get on with the tallying.
We have several reasons for proposing shorter hours.
We have to pay polling workers for every hour they work. These folks do a terrific job, but we imagine they might appreciate one less hour.
Also, in national election years, it could help eliminate the perception that some people might not vote because returns from eastern states could lead them to believe their votes don’t matter.
We’re selfish, too. We have deadlines to get our newspapers out, and receiving results earlier would help us and other media outlets do a more complete job.
Make no mistake, we are adamantly for giving Iowans every opportunity to vote. Our current system that allows absentee voting affords greater voter convenience and helps take the pressure off on Election Day.
So here’s our every-two-year plea: Lawmakers, please consider shortening the polling hours in Iowa. We know a lot of people would appreciate it.
Oh, and one final note: Isn’t it time to start the process toward Internet voting?