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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One more Election Post: Voting Problems...

A quick note on my voting experience which, for the first time in my life, actually included a couple of glitches. Fraud! Conspiracy! Those Democrats stole the election! Nah...I can't pull it off - my heart's not in it...

Anyway, the local ABC affiliate ran this article, detailing problems with the voting machines in my hometown of Scotch Plains. Our machines weren't the Diebold, touch-screen variety, but they were electronic (as they have been for several years, now, btw...). You push on a box next to the candidate of your choice, and a green "X" appears in the box. When you're done, you push a "CONFIRM VOTE" button in the lower right corner of the ballot, the machine beeps, and the vote is counted.

While voting, I accidentally pushed the wrong box for one of the races. I tried to change my mind by pushing the other box, but the machine didn't respond. After two or three tries, I realized that you have to push the first box again (to make the "X" go away), and then push your preferred box to make the "X" appear. I agree that this is a glitch, but it hardly seems like something that would cause "depressed voter turnout" as the Republican lawyer in the article says. People will complain about anything, especially when they're paid to do so...

The other interesting twist was speaking to my mother after getting home from voting. When she went to vote, she noticed that my sister and I are both still on the rolls in Marlboro, NJ, where we grew up (and where my parents still live). I haven't lived there since the early 90's. My sister moved out of the town years ago, but has susbequently moved back. Still, they had her maiden name on the list (she got married in 1998). So theoretically, I guess I could have voted twice last night if I wanted to drive the 45 minutes from Scotch Plains to Marlboro...

posted by Brian at 10:57 AM


  • Not entirely sure I'd call your experience a glitch. Combine touchscreen voting with people inexperienced with touchscreens, and it's arguably a feature that you can't brush your finger across another box and change your vote. The two-press lowers error -- still, I'd probably design it with some obvious onscreen instruction saying, "to change your vote...."

    I was still registered in Philadelphia as late as 1998, according to the jury duty notice. No idea if I'm still registered multiple times, though.

    By Anonymous Jeff Porten, at 7:35 PM, November 11, 2006  

  • These aren't touchscreens, they're some kind of hybrid machine. You're looking at a real paper ballot, and when you touch a box, a green LED "X" shines through the paper to indicate your vote. This makes context-sensitive help harder (it'd have to be printed on the ballot itself, and would likely get lost amongst all the other clutter).

    By Blogger Brian, at 2:10 AM, November 12, 2006  

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