Long Voting Lines & Short Fuses: Queue Management to Encourage Voters

It's voting season in the U.S. With election day only a few weeks away, on November 3rd, early voting has started in over 20 states. Unfortunately, long voting lines and hours-long wait times are creating delays, frustration and unsafe conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, postal service delays are causing issues with mail-in voting. With over 25 million ballots already cast, the November 3rd election day is expected to be busy. So what can governments do to help their citizens? They need to prioritize health and safety-including shelter from increasingly cold weather-and the ability to disseminate timely information to all voters. New technology investments can encourage, and allow, more citizens to exercise their right to vote safely and easily.

Managing Voting Lines and Wait Times

With winter rapidly approaching, COVID-19 and flu cases are on the rise. This makes waiting in long voting lines--sometimes as long as 11 hours--extremely dangerous, especially to the vulnerable population. Wearing masks and keeping 6 feet away from others is a start, but with the weather becoming colder, this can still be a major deterrent to voters. That's why queue management software is the perfect solution: it promotes physical distancing and safety while creating a better waiting experience.

With queue management software, the entire waiting process can be done from a personal device or, for those who lack access to an updated personal device, a kiosk. With a personal device, voters join the voting line from an app, which will consistently send them notifications about wait times and their place in line. They can wait in their car at the polling station or could even wait at home, planning their trip based on remaining wait times.

If someone doesn't have access to a personal device, kiosks can be set up at the polling station for self-serve check-ins. They will still be informed of approximate voting wait times and can receive text updates. Kiosks can also be used to print paper tickets, which can be used in conjunction with monitors at polling stations to announce whose turn it is to vote.

When someone reaches the front of the virtual queue, they can safely enter the building, accounting for physical distancing and capacity restrictions.

Handling Voter Inquiries

With fewer polling stations this year, many citizens will have questions on where and how to vote leading up to the election. Along with long voting lines, the increased volume of questions can lead to long calling queues for voter information. To manage this volume, government service offices need to find technology solutions that can manage citizen's calls quickly and efficiently. Luckily, call back queues can provide the support needed during this time.

When entering a call back queue, callers receive information on their place in line and their estimated voting wait time. They can hang up and receive text updates about their progress, before finally receiving a call back when it's their turn. This decreases frustration, as there is constant communication with the caller. It also gives callers their freedom back. Instead of waiting on hold for hours, they can hang up and monitor their notification, while simultaneously doing anything they want. With election day rapidly approaching, disseminating updated information will be increasingly important. Call back queues allow citizens to receive information and answers quickly, increasing their ability to vote.

Preparing For a Productive Election Day

Allowing citizens the ability to have a say and exercise their right to vote is at the core of democracy. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is changing and challenging the election season. By investing in technology, citizens can be safe and informed during the voting process. QLess queue management solutions are quick to implement, with implementation taking less than a week. As election day rapidly approaches, governments need to be prepared for November 3rd with the proper systems in place to reduce voting lines and encourage voter participation.