Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Some Things Should Not be Touched

Today for the first time I voted on a touchable computer screen. It was, in a word, scary. I could not help but hear the cries of "voter fraud" rebound through my tiny skull as I stood there. Here are all the things that trouble me:

1. Due to the cost and size of the voter machines, there are fewer of them than stations for the old fashioned paper ballots, thus far fewer voters can vote at any given time and thus there are serious access problems.

2. Touch screens are, well, touchy. You can easily touch the wrong thing or go past what you intended. They are not intuitive, there is a glare, the screen hurts your eyes and if you are over 60, or just not familiar with computer screens, you could very easily be confused--also adding to the voter access problem mentioned in 1.

3. The "paper" ballot that it prints for a supposed "paper trail" is not one you get to take home in your hot little hand (yeah, I spent a good five minutes looking for mine before I read the sign that said I would not get to take it home). In fact, you can't even touch it. It's behind glass like some kind of museum curio. Therefore, how do I know that said paper trail isn't quickly and easily shredded after the machines are closed down? I don't.

4. Anyone who owns a computer knows that from time to time they foul up for no good reason. They freeze, lose information, die and other charming behaviors. And this is when just 1 person is using them. These machines are required to work all day long, 13 hours, and not have any problems? (During Mercury in Retrograde, no less!). I think not.

5.Whether I am paranoid and it was just chance, or there is a rhyme to this, 9 out of 10 Republican candidates were listed at the top of each page, with Democrats at bottom.

* As an aside, I found it interesting that they did not check my license against my ballot. I brought in the booklet mailed to me and that was all they required. I could have taken that from my neighbor!

** ALSO, The people signing me in were hopelessly slow and not helpful. I didn't know where to stand or whom to talk to and there were three people behind the desk but only 1 of them could help the line of voters waiting to vote. Revisit access problem in #1 and 2.

In summary, I'm sorry but I don't trust the new process. It feels good to vote, but I can only hope that it really did count. As for the sticker they gave me to wear: "I voted on a touchable screen"...well I think that's a mark of shame, not something to be proud of.

Tomorrow better bring SOME good news!



At 12:56 PM, Blogger Myfanwy Collins said...

Good for you for getting out there, Jordan! I'm hoping for some good news when the polls close to tonight. Missouri is apparently going to be a big indicator for the rest of the country (guess who's been glued to CNN all day?).

At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, good for you, Jordan. I almost always vote absentee, so I sort of assume my vote is instantly shredded.

The few times I've voted in person no one ever checks ID or even the mailer that I bring. But they do loudly yell, "We've got a Democrat!" because the area is largely Republican.

In any case, voter fraud in the last election was much higher in non-white areas, according to Yes Magazine.

At 1:42 PM, Blogger gerry rosser said...

I am not paranoid, and not fond of conspiracy theories (although I do know that just because you are paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you). I think if someone really wanted a foolproof voting system, we'd have one. I truly feel politicians fear nothing so much as unfettered and fully exercised democracy (this year we faced a proposition here asking us citizens to agree to make it harder for us citizens to pass a state-constitution-amending measure, naturally I voted "No").

Hope your vote counts. I voted this morning on a paper ballot.

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Joy said...

I don't know if you noticed, but I posted a blog post talking about how easy those machines are to hack, on top of everything else: http://www.joylanzendorfer.com/2006/11/02

At 3:09 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Thanks Myf. Missouri this time, eh? We can thank elections for putting otherwise bad climate states on our collective radar, eh?

Steph: I love (and cringe) at the image of someone shouting "We've got a Democrat." Scary.

Gerry: I don't think it's as simple as people "wanting" a foolproof system, though I think you're right--it can be done. Amazing what kinds of propositions they're putting under our noses. It's almost insulting. Many people are willing to be bought off with shiny American merchandise.

Joy: A scary blog post. Yikes. See, they can be hacked too! Damn it.


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