Easy As Taking Out $200


To answer the question that's on everyone's mind: Yes, I did manage to vote this afternoon. It took all of five minutes, one-tenth the reported wait at 11:30 this morning (due to the early-lunch crowd, I assume). And in addition to the pleasure of voting against Bush and Kerry (along with several bond measures), I got to use one of those nifty touch-screen machines–old hat in every other sector of life but "cutting-edge technology" when it comes to voting, according to Fairfax County's explanatory video. I can't say for sure how secure this method is, but it is definitely more pleasant and straightforward for voters (at least, those who are comfortable with ATM machines) than the mechanical voting booths I used in New York or the punch cards I used in L.A.

NEXT: Early Exit Polls

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  1. Why don’t we just let people put Xs in big boxes, stick the sheet of paper in a box, and let the old ladies hand count them?

    Who cares if it takes a couple days? The important thing is to get it RIGHT.

  2. The punch cards in LA went ink blot this time. No hanging ink blots.

  3. L.A.’s all about the ink-dot these days. Which reminded of that great Shocking Blue double-entendre classic, “Ink Pot.”

    Put some lovin’ in your heart
    like you put the ink in the INK-POT!
    Learn it!
    And you will enjoy yourself
    Putting the ink in the ink-pot!

    Or something like that.

  4. I like the scantron or connect the arrow ballots personally. Easy, quick to count and there’s a paper trail. What is wrong with this method?

  5. I have to say, those mechanical lever pull booths are still awesome. It’s like taking a steam train to work, or getting your milk delivered.

    Also, the the swing action really makes you feel like you did something important.

  6. KAH-CHUNK!! flip flip flip flip flip … KAH-CHUNK!! yeah, those touch screens sound slick, but I love the gritty and unrefined sounds of New York mechanical voting machines!!

  7. The “cutting-edge” usually means there was some massive public expense to upgrade all the systems.

  8. I agree with Pavel, pulling that big old railway-switch of a lever really makes you feel like you voted.

  9. I’m with Mo, quick-count/paper-trail, scantron is the way to go.

    I liked pulling the levers on those machines too. But they are too easy to tinker with.

  10. FYI, “Scantron” is a brand name. The generic term is “optical mark readers”. The Scantron name is just well-known because the company’s machines are used in almost every school in the United States.

    Scantron is not involved with the election ballots; the market is small, and the potential damage to the brand name in the event of a Florida-style mess is too high.

  11. Let me echo the love of the old fashioned mechanical voting machines. The one time I used it was cool as shit.

  12. Never used ’em. They sound like “one-armed bandit” gambling machines to me. Which I guess they are.

  13. Stevo,

    You’re right, in fact Florida tried the lever machines out, but the old folks kept jamming them up with nickels. I think the odds of any jackpot were too low as well.

  14. The fact is, the punch cards used in Florida were an embarassment. In the 70’s my grade school was using optical scanners to grade tests. Punch cards, on the other hand, date back to the 1890 census. It’s fairly typical to see the government jump from nineteenth century technology to untested bleeding-edge technology with a single leap.

    At my polling place they used optical scanning. Fill in the little circles and feed it into a machine which automatically counts the vote and conveniently stacks the ballots for a later recount. What could be better than that?

  15. More love for the optical character, machine-read paper ballots. I have used the old machines, and they are cool, but they were a major case of sciatica if you wanted to write names in. Fraud wasn’t a stranger to them, either, as early morning news out of Philly reminded us today.


  16. Sometimes I marvel at the stupidity of people who post here.

    I think that if anything has been settled in the last 15 years or so, it is the superiority of the computer to paper and pen as a tabulation device. Perhaps we should stand outside and bang rocks together, or just scream in the direction of Washington, and let the candidates decide who’s name seems to be loudest.

  17. superiority of the computer to paper and pen as a tabulation device…..

    Crooked pols used to, and sometimes still do, hack mechanical voting machines. Is security of the new touch-screen voting modules up to the challenge of modern cyber-ward-heelers? If you have to recount a huge stack of paper that’s OCR read, isn’t that a computer doing the job, anyway?


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