Paul’s Perambulations

November 26, 2006

Voting Problems

Filed under: Politics — Paul @ 11:49 am

Here is a version of what I sent to the Philadelphia Inquirer on November 10, 2006, in response to their glowing report of the new voting machines. The following is also posted at the Inquirer online.

In Haverford Township, 9th Ward, I intended to do a write-in vote for one of the electoral offices.  We had an electronic machine for the first time, with a touch screen.  I first touched the screen for my posted candidates for all offices except the office I intended for a write-in.  I then touched the write-in button for that office, and then touched the red button in the upper right.  At that time, the machine started beeping and the screen was emblazoned with red lights.  I explained what had occurred to the person in charge of the machines, who came to look at this machine.  He studied the manual (someone jocularly commented that this is what they had sent him to class for), fiddled with the machine, called someone on his cell phone, but remained puzzled.  He directed me to the other voting machine nearby.  In this case I did essentially the same thing, except that I pushed the write-in button next to the intended office before doing any other votes.  I then pressed the upper right red button.  The write-in window opened, I wrote in my choice (in the small vertical space available.  I then closed the window manually, as instructed.  I proceeded to vote for my other candidates, as before, and then pressed the green VOTE button to finish the process.  I believe the first machine was faulty.

When I left, the “person in charge” had opened the curtain to the first machine and put it off limits.  I can see no reason for it to have refused my first attempt.  Fortunately, this didn’t “break” the second machine for Ward 9, and I assume that things went successfully with that machine (at least if folks didn’t start  getting too ornery, to think that they could do write-in votes).

There is general consensus (according to the Inquirer) that folks do not trust the integrity of a vote that is entirely managed electronically.  If folks don’t believe in the integrity of the voting system, what’s the reason for anyone to vote at all or to be involved in “free” (if you’ve got the millions it takes) elections?

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