Is There Any Way to Shorten Voting Lines on Election Day? Maybe!

Most election experts expect a heavy turnout because of the Bush-Kerry battle, but there are other tough issues on the ballot. And that's causing another concern - how long will you wait to cast a ballot?

WSFA did some testing Tuesday. There are four local tax referendums on this ballot and eight constitutional amendments, and they will take time to read.

So we decided to try to determine just how much time. What takes longer - making a cup of coffee, or reading the ballot?

Kathryn Abrams makes a mean cappucino, and she's a fast reader, so she's the perfect choice for this test. Which is faster - making one 12 ounce cup, or reading one long ballot. Imagine you're in line at the precinct. Kathryn's inside the poll, reading. She's never seen this ballot before - and she wants to get it right.

When both are done - our stopwatch shows the total time to make  the coffee: two minutes. Total time to read the ballot: six minutes 45 seconds.

"I had to read a little more carefully," Abrams said, "because like I said, the verbage was a different than what I normally read in everyday life. And were you able to make a decision very quickly on each one of these? No, actually, I wasn't. I actually had to read some over."

And that's the problem. Some Alabama precincts have thousands of people on the rolls. If 60 to 70 percent show up - and a lot of them take seven minutes in the booth?

But what happens if you've done some homework? We went to a local hair salon to answer that question.

We let Rex Fronduti read the ballot ahead of time and then read it again and cast a vote while we timed him. Total time: Two and a half minutes.

"I just kinda sped along with it," Fronduti said. "I didn't have to concentrate on it because I knew wht I was gonna do. Are you surprised cut more than 60 percent off it? Oh, yes."

Fronduti says it's a simple and easy lesson learned but he's worried that other people might not take advantage of it.

"It's gonna be a long day," he said. "And I'll be there early."

If you're wondering just how much of a delay you could see at the polls, think about this.  If one thousand people take seven extra minutes to read before they vote, well, you can do the math. And even if there are several voting booths, thing will slow down a lot. That's why election officials want you pre-read the ballot; you can even take inside the booth with you.