Election Fiasco: More Entertaining Than Disneyland

by Bill Manley

Coral Springs 09/13/02

Tuesday morning my wife and I voted at the Coral Springs Elementary School. The experience was more entertaining than Disney Land. But sad to witness considering the alleged effort expended to upgrade the voting process. I suggest that the machines are not adequate and the process is faulty.

As we entered the polling place we announced our party affiliation to the officials. For that we were given cards which noted the party. From here on, things became very confusing. We waited patiently while an official explained to an elderly women that she could not vote for Reno since she had declared her affiliation as Republican. This discussion took place in the middle of the aisle as voters queued up waiting for access to the machine. It was resolved eventually, to the distress of the Republican voter. I suggest that the process would run more smoothly if a trainer and a practice machine was available off to the side.

My wife was next. The clerk inserted a module into the voting machine. A screen appeared with a choice of Republican, Democrat, or Other. She elected Democrat but the subsequent screens insisted that she selected Republican. Following several attempts she coerced the machine to display the proper selections.

My turn was next. The machine was initialized no less than 6 times with the magic module before it would accept any input from me. Then that didn’t work correctly no matter how often I presented my finger to the desired selection box. Finally I found a pencil to point to the desired box. All proceeded without incident after that. I had discovered that the proximity of my hand, next to the pointing finger, seemed to interrupt adjacent infrared beams – confusing the machine. The pencil provided a more selective targeting device.

It disturbed me that a clerk had to initialize my machine with the module. I am definitely not accusing any staff of dishonesty, but anyone having that initialization module can arbitrarily render valid votes. I don’t like that feature. I’d prefer that the vote be certified by the voter rather than an election clerk. I believe that this is a serious security opening!

Finally I found it inconsistent when, having professed my party affiliation, the first screen to appear was to select the affiliation. Could I have told the officials one thing and then vote differently when given access to the machine? In a primary election it doesn’t seem to me to be proper for a Democrat to have access to Republican candidates – or visa versa.

Author: HelpMeHoward