Adventures in Voting

Now that Manic Monday and Super Tuesday have given way to Kryptonite Wednesday, I should retell my adventures voting in the presidential primary.

I arrived at the local polling place, a church gym, at 7:15am. The plan was simple: vote, return home in time to shower & shave before the housekeeper arrives, let housekeeper in, depart for work at a reasonable time.

Yeah, that didn’t work out …

Georgia added an ID requirement for voting, which makes perfect sense until they actually implemented it. Poll workers have to look you up in a computer system based on information you provide on a card. This information is keyed in by an attendant and used to generate a smart card, which is then inserted in the electronic voting system.

This information included the party you want to vote for in the primary … Democrat or Republican.

You can see where this is going, can’t you …

Yep. They selected the wrong party.

In the paper voting system, you would just exchange ballots. In the modern and convenient electronic voting system, you wait over thirty minutes for an attendant to mark the machine holding your card as “out of order” and go through the process of generating a new card.

Yes, the attendant did assign me to the wrong party. But after seeing the interface on the system, I can see why it was incorrectly selected. It was designed by morons. The forms on the screen look nothing like the card voters fill out to receive access to a ballot, the color scheme is horrid and the interface assumes some amount of computer knowledge.

Poll workers are volunteers who can work a weekday. They tend to be older, as in “my birth pre-dates the transistor” or “my son-in-law hooked up my Tivo at Christmas and programmed a large button remote so I could watch Matlock reruns” … people that are not, on the whole, computer savvy.

This, as we say in the computer biz, is an “inherent design flaw.”  The interface I watched in use was confusing, poorly laid out and probably in violation of several ADA design guidelines. It’s easy to mess up working with that kind of interface.

If Amazon or eBay used that interface, they would go broke. But it’s acceptable for voting?

I eventually voted on the correct ballot, and made it home just as the housekeeper arrived … but the story does not end there …

I saw my wife when I got home after work. She voted at the same polling location after work. When they first keyed in her ID, it showed her as already voting. It also showed me as not having voted.

Yep, they messed up while reissuing my smart card, picking the right address but the wrong Richardson. And to top it all of, they said this was not the only time that happened during the primary.

And my candidate didn’t even win … but that is another story.



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