Whose bright idea was this new voting system, anyway?

One last thought about today’s vote: here in NY we used a new voting system of paper ballots instead of our tried and true voting booths.

Here’s how I voted the old way:

I went to the table, signed in, and waited in line. When it was my turn, I went into the booth, pulled the curtain lever closed behind me, and – in absolute privacy – clicked the levers for my choices. If I accidentally tried to vote twice in one row, the lever wouldn’t move, alerting me to my goof. When I was finished, I pulled the curtain lever open, which cast my ballot and returned the lever back to normal. Stepped out, and got my “I Voted Today” sticker. Everyone was always smiling and happy.

Here’s how I voted today:

I went to the table, and waited while the election inspectors had a debate about where a book of ballots went, and why they weren’t logged onto the sheet, and what time they started a new book because someone hadn’t marked it down. Then I signed in, and was handed a big paper thing. I asked what I was supposed to do with it, and the woman opened it, told me how to fill it out ala standardized tests from school, and handed it back. I then asked where I was supposed to do this, and was directed to a table in the middle of the conference room. On the table were cardboard dividers where I was supposed to sit. I found a spot and began to fill in the bubbles on my paper ballot. I had to be careful because if I goofed I had to get a new ballot. If I goofed and didn’t catch the error, the vote in that category wouldn’t count. As I sat there, a woman on the other side of the table looked over the divider and said, “What did you get for #2?” and laughed. When I finished filling in my ballot, I closed it in the privacy cover and went to the scanning machine, where I was instructed to slide it into the machine. It accepted my ballot and I got my “I Voted Today” sticker. Everyone looked cranky.

I didn’t feel any privacy, and frankly thought the process was 100 steps backwards from a technological standpoint. I mean, paper ballots? What is this, student council? And how many trees died so we could vote like this?

Anyway, from what I understand, here in Monroe County we’ve kept our machines in tip top shape, but that wasn’t the case across the whole state. So while our voting machine experienes were great, it may not have been so cheery in other places in New York.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that I voted.


2 responses to “Whose bright idea was this new voting system, anyway?

  1. I just got back from voting a little while ago, too – and I thought it was weird as well. It did feel less private. I missed my curtain. Call me crazy, but I like the DING, SLAM sound as the ballot registered and the stiff curtain opened.

    I slid my ballot in upside down into the Scantron machine, so I didn’t feel like anyone “saw” my answers, but I didn’t like the return to bubble sheets. And my first thought was exactly yours: “Wow! that’s a lot of trees we’re killing. What was wrong with our old machines?”

    That said, my son was with me, and he has now seen three different incarnations of voting booths and he is only 11 years old. He saw me get my sticker. Hopefully, one day, he’ll exercise his right.

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