Friday, October 31, 2008

My Early and Not-So-Private Vote

iStock_2-party ballotXSmall

I sure wish the Colorado ballot looked like the one above. This year we have so many candidates, amendments* and referenda on the ballot that Tuesday could be a nightmare at the polls. The voter information booklet sent out by the legislature totaled 140 pages, and that just covered amendments, referenda and retention of judges.

I’ll be working as a poll monitor on Tuesday, so for that and other reasons I voted early. I had to chuckle the other night when I heard a talking head on TV suggest that those of us who vote early miss out on the benefit of the full campaign. Please. He was kidding, right?

Nearly every day for the past God-knows-how-long, the two major party candidates and their running-mates have said or done something that made me not want to vote for any of them. I doubt that the next three days will matter, barring some calamitous event. Besides, who says I voted major party anyway?

Only I know who I voted for…I think. The voting procedure here in Teller County was the least private I’ve ever experienced.

We had the option of electronic machines or paper ballots, and being the intelligent creature I am, I chose paper. After all, I do want my vote to count. That meant I had to sit at a table with partitions separating me from three other voters. So far, so good.

However, even though the ballot was placed inside a privacy sleeve, it was also something like 18 inches long. Whatever column I was filling out had to be outside the sleeve, and it took some time to complete the entire column.

Anyone walking behind me could easily have looked over my shoulder to see my ballot. When you’re standing at an e-machine you can do a body block, but not so when you’re sitting. But even if it means that my privacy was compromised, I would choose paper again without hesitation.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, no, the Colorado ballot didn’t offer the “None of the Above” option. Rats!

* I’m a huge advocate of citizen-initiated measures, so I’m not complaining. Honest.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who comes up with this stuff?

Never mind that this ballot is marked for Obama (it’s not mine; I don’t even tell my husband who I’ve voted for). The chosen candidate is not the point. The point is the ridiculous means of indicating which candidate the person voted for.

Voters understand checking a box or filling in a circle. Actually, anyone who made it to third grade understands those methods of making a selection. But filling in the missing section of an arrow? That’s just not instinctive or intuitive or natural.

Sure, the ballot includes instructions on how to complete it. But still, it’s simply not...normal. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s paper and not a Diebold voting screen.

This happens to be the Arizona ballot. But I don’t think we can blame that state entirely, since I understand this type of ballot is used in other states as well. I’d love to meet the person who designed this and find out what the rationale for it was.

By the way, all those other names in each party’s box are the names of the official electors. I’ve never seen that before, either.