This past Wednesday (Oct. 24) I wanted to download my sample election ballot from Montgomery County's website. Note that Wed was less than 2 weeks before election day. To my surprise and dismay, the only sample ballots available on the county's website were from the Spring primary election.
For those who dont know what a sample election ballot is, they are a paper representation of how the voting machine will appear when you vote. The sample ballot contains all the elected positions that voters will vote for, all the candidates running for each position, public questions that will be on the ballot, instructions for voting, and may also contain the polling locations. In other counties in America these are mailed to all registered voters. Not so in Montgomery County, PA. Here you have to actively search for a non-existing one on the county website or physically visit the Voter Services office to pick one up.
So, since the sample ballots were not available on the county's website, I decided to go down to the Voter Services office to get one. Montgomery County's webpage indicates that the Voter Services office is in the Montgomery County Courthouse, and is only open 8:30am - 4:15pm (nice of them to make it convenient for people who have jobs!)
After learning where to go, off I went to the courthouse to get my sample ballot. As soon as you walk into the courthouse, you have to go through a security checkpoint with metal detectors. After getting through security, I inquired as to where in the building the Voter Services office is located. I had to ask 3 times before realizing the security guard I was asking is 3/4 deaf, before asking another security guard who did have an acute sense of hearing. Surprisingly I learned that this office is not in the courthouse, but in the building across the street (1 Montgomery Plaza).
OK, so now I leave the courthouse and head over to 1 Montgomery Plaza. There is no directory there so I again inquire with Security where the Voter Services office is located. They informed me it is on the 6th floor, possibly room 602. I go up to the 6th floor and find room 602 (there are actually 2 rooms labelled Voter Services, and of course I went into the wrong one.)
The Voter Services office is very hot. The temperature must have been 85F. If you plan on going there, remember to dress accordingly. If you have a sweater and a coat on, you will be sweating profusely at the end of your visit, and may pass out from heat exhaustion. I had to wait about 10mins to get my sample ballot, which is very large at 2ft x 2ft in size.
I finally did obtain a sample ballot but it was very inconvenient. The sample ballots should be mailed to all registered voters. If a voter does not have access to the internet, they would not be able to download a sample ballot, nor would they be able to find out where/when to vote and who is running for election. Note that I have previously suggested this to our election officials and found out the reason for not doing so is it is too expensive. I figure it would cost about $1 per registered voter for the printing and mailing. Apparently improving our democracy is not worth $1/voter to the county.
I have attached my sample ballot for anyone who resides in Norristown 2-1. In addition to statewide races, Norristown 2-1 has contested races for Congressional District 13, State Senate District 17 & State Rep District 150 .
The County has since uploaded sample ballots onto their website, which can be found here, http://webapp.montcopa.org/voterservices/sampleballots/.