Electronic Voting – Underwhelming and Annoying

I make it a habit to take my boys along to watch me vote.  No, I don’t let them pick the candidates… maybe I should.  But that’s a story for another day.  Today, I thought it would be fun for them to tag along and witness my first foray into electronic, rather than mechanical, voting.

I showed up, holding my boys’ hands, to my polling place at 11:50 AM. Ready to cast my primary votes!  I confidently strode into the polling place, eager to fill in the ovals on my ballot and turn ’em into electrons to be counted.

I was greeted with a comment that the polls weren’t open.  Not until noon. Annoyance number one.  Fortunately I could stick around for the extra 12 minutes, (the polling place opened two minutes late).  I didn’t realize that the polls opened later in this area.  Good thing I was able to stick around. I’ll be in class this evening, and wouldn’t make it back by the 9 PM poll closing time.

I found the table for my voting district, signed in, received my ballot (it’s placed inside a privacy folder), and I was escorted to one of the “booths.” Actually, it was just a table set up to allow you the privacy to fill in the little ovals on the ballot.  They provided the pen.  Had it been a #2 pencil, I would have felt like I was back in high school, trying to keep my classmates from cheating off my standardized test.

Not too difficult.

I was escorted to the ballot scanner gizmo.  I think that’s what I’ll call it:  a BSG.  There, a friendly poll worker peered over my shoulder to ensure I placed my ballot into the BSG properly.  Zzzzip.  In went the ballot.  The screen flashed with a “ballot accepted” message.

And I was done.

And annoyed.

I couldn’t understand it.  Yes, I had to wait a little longer.  Yes, I could have figured out the process on my own, and didn’t need the help.  But I was glad the help was there.  In some cases locally, it was needed. According to WNYT, even a couple politicians struggled with the system. Was I concerned that the electronic voting method could be gamed?  Not any more than the mechanical system.  So, why was I annoyed?

Then it dawned on me.  The whole process seemed to be a bit more in the open.  Less privacy.  No curtains closing in a booth.  And the poll worker helping out at the scanner could easily read my ballot.

Not that I’m afraid of sharing my voting record.  I just prefer to do it on my own terms.

And the kids were bored silly.  The electrons aren’t nearly as exciting as the mechanical booth with it’s levers, knobs, and curtain.  The feel just ain’t the same.

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6 Comments

  1. Kevin March

     /  September 14, 2010

    Quick question. I have voted before on this machine for the school budget vote, but when we vote for the primary, do you get a slip for all the races or only your own party?

    Reply
    • Kevin… I only received a ballot for the Republican party. (I’m a registered repub.) So, I never saw a Democrat ballot.

      Does that answer your question?

      Reply
      • Kevin March

         /  September 14, 2010

        Yes, it did, and I saw what I wanted when I got there. For primaries, I got only the Conservative Party lines, making it much less confusing for people trying to figure out what / who they should be voting for.

        Did you hear the news on the election? the AP called the Governor’s race in favor of Paladino! Thanks to all of the registered Republicans for giving me an opportunity this November to vote for Carl Paladino.

      • Definitely big news having Carl win. I wouldn’t get too comfortable if I was Cuomo!

  2. Amy

     /  September 14, 2010

    Hey Wade. I just got home after working the polls. As an election inspector I have comment. Everybody had some issues opening the polls today. It was a new system and although we were trained, there is no way to train for the actual day. The process for opening the polls is very methodic and quite rigid with numerous codes, locks, keys, seals and so much paperwork that cannot replicated for a training session. Although my district ran into a big problem we got the polls open (albeit 25 minutes late) but we did it and thank God our voters were patient. I am confident November poll openings will be much smoother. I too like the secure feeling of the curtain however seeing this in action one would have to be really obvious to be able to see you mark your ballott in the booth and if you used a privacy sheild there is no way anyone can see your votes. At either end of the ballotts there is ample blank space which gives you more than emough room to feed it into the machine all the while still using the privacy sheild. Also I have noticed that this is in fact a much more efficient way to speed up the process. Now you can have multiple people voting simultaneously in the privacy booths which has cut down on line waits significantly. How many times have you had to stand behind sometimes who had spent so much time in the booth you thought they had fallen asleep.
    I do like the new system and I think that now we election inspectors have experience now future elections will go much more smoothly. However, I do have 2 issues. #1 The ovals are too small and #2 I want my kids to see who I am voting for. My solution to this will be to go to the table in the back of the room a fill out the ballott with them beside me. This method also has a paper trail should a race be contested and the accuracy is of the count would be very difficult to deny as the machine will not accept a ballott that has stray marks (think hanging chad) or over-voting. I’m ok with it. I hope you will be too someday! 🙂

    Reply
    • Amy… great perspective from inside the system. And good point on the “chads.” All in all, I think things went fairly smoothly at my polling place. Certainly in comparison to other polling places. I might have to use your method for sharing my voting with my kids down the road. I agree that it will likely be much smoother in November.

      In my case the poll worker at the scanner actually stood right by me as I put my ballot into the machine. Never occurred to me to feed it into the machine while still covering a portion of the ballot with the privacy folder. I’ll keep that in mind for November. It just felt like I had someone looking over my shoulder while I voted.

      And I think that I just love those older mechanical things that you can “feel” working. I’m sure I’ll grow more comfortable with the system with more experience.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Reply

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