Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Excercising our right to vote, and the new ballot machine

In order to exercise our right to vote, my hubby and I woke up a tad earlier than usual to make it to the ballot before work.

When we arrived at our voting place and were welcomed by a few old ladies who told us where our distract’s voting station was. Lo’ and behold the complications…

At first the lady could not find my name. She found my husbands and was confused why it was not *my* name. Another lady quickly ran over, started helping out as well… my husband was set up with a ballot, a little manila folder that said “Private” (or something like that on it) and off he was to vote. Lucky for him, he looked at his ballot and realized they gave him the ballot from the *other* party!

Hubby says “You gave me the wrong ballot.”

The two ladies “What do you mean wrong ballot?”

Quickly another lady ran over and explained that you have to WATCH for which party the voter is coming from, you can’t just give out all the ballots from the SAME stack!

Quickly they had to rewrite everything onto the right parties information card.

Finally when you can vote, you have to go into this privacy booth, you put your ballot down, and what you see brings you back to HS. It’s each candidates name with little ovals next to them and you have to color them in! MULTIPLE CHOICE EXAM FOR YOUR ELECTION!

When you’re done coloring in the little ovals next to your candidates name you put your ballot back into the manila folder (to maintain privacy) and then you stand in line to wait for the scanner, hoping your ballot doesn’t fall out and give out who you voted for!

Of all the stupid things, you have to scan your ballot face UP! Why? Where’s the privacy?

Anyway, I dislike this new voting machine. I liked the old one way better!

11 comments:

G6 said...

You can read about my similar experiences here.

Yehuda said...

This is so hilarious. In Pittsburgh the voting machines are all electronic. You tap the LCD screen and put check marks next to the candidates. Easy peasy.

frumskeptic said...

YEHUDA-
THAT WOULD BE THE SMART THING TO DO! ITS SO DUMB THE WAY THEY HAVE IT HERE IN NY. i CANT GET OVER HOW INEFFICIENT IT IS.

Dave said...

Purely electronic voting machines have the same problem that the old style lever voting machines do.

You have no ability to confirm that the votes that are counted are actually the votes that were cast.

Electronic with a paper print out that you confirm and then submit would do that.

Failing that, the scantron ballots, although annoying, are currently the best combination of auditability and rapid counting that we have.

mlevin said...

And how do we know that the scantron worked?

I think that we need electronic with a print out for a verification, but that's too easy and makes too much sense for our government to implement.

Dave said...

And how do we know that the scantron worked?

You don't, per se, any more than you know that any method worked. However, if you put the ballot in to the box and there is an error on your form (say, an overvote), most of the machines will immediately spit it back out and let you correct it.

More importantly, the scantron sheets can be hand counted if necessary. They are a physical object with a well established chain of custody -- we're pretty good at tracking these sorts of things.

I think that we need electronic with a print out for a verification, but that's too easy and makes too much sense for our government to implement.

Sure, but the only difference between the two is whether you tap a touch screenor fill in a circle. Sure, it's nicer and quicker to tap a screen, but, if it there are a lot of people voting, scantron ballots scale much more easily than expensive hardware. If some of the machines in your precinct break down with touch screens, you are going to have a lot more aggravation than filling in a circle.

Also, the scantron system is much cheaper (and remember, our taxes pay for those machines), and will work for areas that go vote-by-mail (ex. the State of Oregon).

mlevin said...

True, but there is no privacy with the new system. Let's say I was in living in the neighborhood where majority of people strongly supported a certain candidate (like Obama in '08) and let's say I was one of the few against him. While you are standing in line to have your votes read by the scantron others will see your choices and attack you. Even if you held your ballot in the manila envelope someone could always see your choices when you are taking it out, and someone could always knock it out of your hand in the "accidental" fashion and reveal your votes.

Dave said...

I've been using some variant of optical scan ballots since the late 1990s, and I've never had anyone in a position (even in the most crowded of elections) to read my ballot.

Perhaps it's just a New York thing.

frumskeptic said...

"If some of the machines in your precinct break down with touch screens, you are going to have a lot more aggravation than filling in a circle."

My husband and I went to vote EARLY. One of the two scanners was already broken!
These scanners are super sensitive

Dave said...

I've never seen a scanner broken.

Perhaps NYC bought cheaper units?

And again, in a worst case scenario, if the scanner units were broken, they could have you drop the ballots in a locked box, and scan them later. If you are using touchscreens, broken units would mean no voting.

mlevin said...

No Dave, I read reports where there were precincts where scanners were not working, so people just had to fill out an absentee ballots. Same thing would happen if there is a broker touch screen.