Tuesday, November 07, 2006

11/7/06 I Voted Today

I voted today. I had no excuse not to. The polling place was 500 feet from where I live. Do you want me to be honest? Of course you do. The primary reason I voted today was to see how the voting machines worked. In the 2004 presidential election, my district used optical scan machines. I was very happy with those machines. In addition to the optical scan, there was a distinct paper trail in case there was a need for a recount.

Today's machines were far different. But first, let's start with the entire process. I walked into the room, walked to the right side of the room and pulled out my driver's license. An elderly lady asked for my last name and confirmed who I was. I then wrote down my address and signed on the line next to my name. All good. She then told the gentleman next to her some ID number associated with my name. He then asked for confirmation of my address. I gave it to him. They offered me a flyer with directions on how to use the machines and pointed me in the direction of another lady who was at the far end of the room, opposite the entry door. She printed a ticket with a 4 digit number, which was the number I needed to unlock the machine and vote. Still, all good.

I look down at the machine (on the left side of the room), touch the screen and realize it's not touch screen. (Forgive me if every polling place has the exact same machines and I'm describing the same thing you went through). So, back to the instructions. There were a few very large buttons at the bottom. "Cast Ballot" was in red. A triangular back arrow for "Prev" and a triangular forward arrow for "Next". Followed by a gigantic "Enter" button and an iPod-like scroll wheel on the right to make selections. It took me no time to figure it out. But I did wonder about some of the elderly who may not be quite savvy with computers and scroll wheels. To enter the 4 digit code, you had to use the scroll wheel to get to each number, then hit enter. It was like entering your initials on a Golden Tee game. So, for me, no problem.

It doesn't really matter how I voted. Although I did abstain from a lot of topics on which I had no information (I felt like I was voting on local kindergarten teachers at one point). The important part was at the end. After I was done voting, all of my votes were displayed on 3 pages. Like:

Governor: Joe Schmoe
Prop 99: Yes
Prop 100: No

And so on. I had to confirm each page individually. Once I approved all 3 pages, I hit the "Cast Ballot" button. This is the part I like. Those same pages that I confirmed on the screen were then printed one at a time underneath a plastic cover off to the left. Once again, I have to approve that each printed page matched my vote. Voila.... A paper trail. One that I reviewed and approved.
So, all in all, I give a thumbs up to the process in my district. My biggest concern with electronic voting in the past was a lack of paper trail. And, on the surface, there appears to be a visible, reliable paper trail. Oh, and the logo on the machine I used was a lower case "h" with a little circle in the upper right like a degree symbol. The background was red and the "h" was white. Who makes them?
I was all excited about Microsoft's new mapping tool that has 3D views of a bunch of cities. But the interface is all, well, Microsoft. And, quite frankly, blows. So, try it at your own risk.
Cousin Eric sent this animation - The Boss.
If the above animation is up your alley (and you hate your job like the rest of us)... It's always fun to watch scenes from Office Space. (You realize that movie is more than 7 years old already?)

No comments: