Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Voter Mini-Fraud

Really it's more incompetence than fraud, but it's a problem in either case.

When I received my ballot, I was given a federal-only ballot, and the poll workers didn't seem to know what to do about that to fix it (although I was not very aggressive; they were struggling to work the computer properly, the polling place was surprisingly busy, and most poll workers were elderly). The system also made it difficult to tell that I'd received the incorrect ballot until the end of voting, since it leads you through one race at a time and doesn't give you an "overview" of your ballot before you begin.

In any case, I was improperly only "allowed" to vote federal races, and was not given a ballot with state or local races.

The Peoria Election Commission, when I called, informed me that the federal-only is for special cases where people have moved precincts within the last 30 days (I, obviously, have not) and that it was poll worker error that I was given the incorrect ballot. They also told me this was a SYSTEM-WIDE PROBLEM that they've had many calls about today, and have workers out trying to "fix" the poll worker error on the fly.

I asked what would happen in the case of a close race where many people were not allowed to vote in the races in question; the PEC didn't have an answer, but guessed that if the candidates challenged it would go before a judge.

I realize this is not directly attributable to the computer, but rather to users struggling to USE an ill-designed, opaque computer system (one that is also hackable and makes recounts virtually impossible).

Can we PLEASE go back to voting with pencil on paper now, like most other civilized democracies?

PS -- the machine does print out your votes, after you hit the button, on the little roll of paper for you to verify (of course, if it shows something wrong, you can't do anything about it), but the polling station was SO dark and the print was SO tiny I couldn't read it at all, and my eyes are 20/25 and 20/40.

UPDATE: I did a recorded interview for WEEK news at 6 p.m., just a quick couple of questions.


David said...

I voted in Tazewell County this morning - in the little township of Dillon. We got paper ballots, that we filled in with a black marker, coloring in little circles like on some kind of computer-graded standardized test. When I was done, I took my ballot over to the dreaded Diebold machine and tried to feed it in to the feeder and the machine kept spitting it back out. The election judge tried as well - I counted - 11 times (between the two of us) before the machine accepted it. I did not leave with a warm fuzzy feeling and I certainly left with no indication on paper of what I had voted for. Here's hoping no one wants to hack little Dillon, IL.

Anonymous said...

Given that Allen Mayer lost by a scant 362 votes, I would think this problem opens the election up to some serious challenges. It is unforgivable and illegal that the polling place could not or would not rectify the problem and allow you to vote in the local elections. A democratic government only has as much legitimacy as its voting process has safeguards.