Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Vote Dilemma

We were up at 5:30am this morning to could get to the polling place early so I could go on to work. Where we vote is unfortunately about 30 minutes in the wrong direction.

I live in the county where there have been issues with the voting machines (Jackson County, West Virginia). Perhaps you have seen or heard of the YouTube video that shows our County Clerk demonstrating the machines and apparently not understanding the machine himself--disturbing because he's in charge of training poll workers on their use. While in the end it was determined that the machines did work, the story was certainly on my mind as we drove to cat our votes.

The machine seems simple enough, and the poll workers were very helpful and friendly. I made my choices easily, reviewed my selections, and hit confirm. The machine is very easy to use and understand, and I had no problems making my choices. But as the tape on the left side of the machine scrolled up after I pressed "Confirm," the last thing I saw was "straight ticket."

Hunh? I didn't vote a straight ticket. I didn't see what party the "straight ticket" referred to. Had my vote been properly recorded?

I called to one of the pollworkers for help. She came quickly and I told her what I had seen, and asked if there was a way I could see the printed ticket. She said that wasn't possible, but I could cancel my vote and redo it. I said I wanted to do that.

The worker attempted to void my vote, but wasn't sure of the procedure so she called over another worker who immediately, without clarifying the question, told the first worker to put her calibrator-thingy into the slot and then take it out. Then the second worker quickly said, "wait a minute, put it in again." This time we waited a minute before the thing was removed.

It was then that the second poll worker actually listened to what our question was, and she immediately said, "oh no, you can't change your vote once it's been confirmed."

"Can I see the ticket to see how my vote was cast?"

"No, you can't do that either."

So I left, feeling unsettled and uncertain that my vote was counted correctly. I wonder what happens to those tapes? With the bar code that identifies me, the ticker running that shows my name and my vote, why can it not be viewed by someone at some point to reassure me that my vote was correctly submitted.

I suppose I should have faith that the machine worked properly, but after the many questions on recent weeks during early voting, I am just not sure.


Janet, said...

Hi Sussanna, my son just voted and he said that after you press confirm the list on the side tells what you did not vote for. and he noticed seeing straight ticket on his, also. So there's probably nothing to worry about, it just listed straight ticket as what you didn't vote for.

Mary Garrett said...

That's too weird. I'm going to ask for a paper ballot (in Missouri we have that option). BTW, TLC is discussing the election today.

Matthew Burns said...

If you are concerned you ought to call CNN with their voter problems, the number is (877) 466-2608. They already have 73 complaints from West Virginia on there.

Whatever happened to the old paper ballots? This country used them for more than 200 years and they worked just fine. I just don't understand going away from them. It may mean we wait a couple of hours longer for election returns, but it would be worth it.

I hope your vote counted the way you wanted it to. Thankfully, Shirley and I had no problems when we voted.


Juli said...

In this part of Missouri our only option is paper, Thank the Mother.

Not that it can be trusted either once it's left our hands. I just make my votes with as much knowledge and as many jujus as possible and hope for the best.

I have to say that I've never regretted voting regardless of how I feel the outcome was actually chosen :)

Granny Sue said...

Janet, I am glad you emailed. That makes me feel better. The poll workers should know that and be able to tell people when they ask--I just happened to see the paper scrolling by, so I did not see everything on it. It was quite a shock!

Mary, I wish we had the paper option too. I did request one, but was told they were not available.

trisha too said...

Sheesh, they just handed me a ballot and a felt-tip pen after a no-minute wait!

Counting myself lucky . . .


Mike said...

So, THAT must be where I got that write-in vote from! :D

Bubbasgotgas said...

Ours combines the best of both worlds. You have a paper ballot you fill out and run through a scanner. The scanner holds onto the ballot and lets you know if there were any errors before you leave.

Granny Sue said...

Well, the election is over and it doesn't look like my one vote will make a difference in any of the races. Since Natalie Tennant, our new Secretary of State, is making these machines one of her top priorities, I think the problems will be resolved.

Kathy said...

I'm so glad we still have paper ballots.

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