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I Like the Way My District Does Voting

I have voted in a lot of different states, but the way we do it here in my current district seems to work well.  I got my ID checked against the voting record -- the lady may an explicit check to make sure the addresses matched.  Then I got a paper ballot and a black magic marker.  Next to each name is an arrow pointing to the name with a gap in it.  One fills in and completes the arrow pointing to the candidate one is voting for.  Then, when done, the voter takes the ballot to a machine that looks like a big shredder.  She/he feeds the ballot into the slot, and the ballot is automatically read and counted right there.  There is a LED readout on the front with a total ballot count that increments by one if the ballot is read correctly, providing a psychologically satisfying feeling that one's vote has been counted.  At the end of the day no further counting is required, and I presume they pull the vote counts out electronically or with some kind of summary report.  The ballots stay in a locked vault in the scanner and provide a paper trail if the count has to be checked later. 

By the way, no line at all.  Glad I didn't wait 2+ hours last weekend to vote early in order to avoid the lines.  One has to wonder at the decision-making ability of folks who waited hours to vote early to avoid lines that couldn't possibly be any longer on election day.  Good to see such folks out voting ;=)

Posted on November 4, 2008 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

Comments

I voted in SC today (no early voting in our fair state). They had two laptops they used to check voters. One was labeled A-L and the other was labeled M-Z. I was in the first line and it took me 2 hours to vote. But there are a lot less people with last names that start with M-Z. Upon exiting I asked a person from that line how long it took them to vote. They answered, "About 15 minutes."

Of course, the person operating the M-Z laptop couldn't check in A-L people. "It doesn't work that way."

Government. Ya gotta love it. I can't wait till it has even more control over my healthcare.

Posted by: zjohna | Nov 4, 2008 10:58:27 AM

Like Coyote, I to find the Arizona method to be sound. This year (apparently) I signed up for an early ballot and could not run it through the machine at the polling place, but had to put it in a bin. I have a concern that someone will decide that my signature does not match the one on file and my vote(s)will be dicarded.

Posted by: | Nov 4, 2008 12:02:19 PM

Exactly the same system here as Warren describes, but it took two hours for us to get through the line and vote. Ugh.

Posted by: Sol | Nov 4, 2008 12:57:48 PM

Should have read the comments before posting -- we had basically the same problem as zjohna describes. People who got in line behind us from the other end of the alphabet made it through the line 30-40 minutes faster than we did.

Posted by: Sol | Nov 4, 2008 12:59:46 PM

I live in Pima County, AZ. I got to the voting station at ~6:50 this morning. After 10 minutes in line, it was clear that there was no way I would get to vote within an hour. Oh well, guess I'll go back later. (As a side note, the school (U of A) newspaper also showed pretty incredible early voting lines as well.)

Posted by: DKH | Nov 4, 2008 1:04:36 PM

Oklahoma has used the same optical scanning system statewide and has for at least 15 years. I don't understand why other locations don't adopt it. Easy to count and a permanent record if recount is required.

Took me less than 10 minutes to vote at 0930- I was the 300th voter at my precinct as per the LED.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 4, 2008 4:07:01 PM

That's the exact method we had... that they took away to go to these damned touch-screen devices.

The optical system is too good, I guess. Too many advantages:

- Paper record directly from the voter (original captured ballot)
- Instant recognition of spoiled ballots, allowing for re-voting
- Electronic counting, with only a single machine needed per precinct.
- Almost infinite capacity, as the machine doesn't take long to deal with a person (certainly shorter than people checking ID's or anything like that) and you just add more pens and places to write if you need more throughput.
- Easy for people to understand, and easy to correct if they don't.

It makes sense, which is why they worked so hard to get rid of it here in Maryland, I guess.

Posted by: Highway | Nov 4, 2008 4:22:16 PM

In and out in less than 5 minutes in Connecticut. We had the same scanner as you have in Arizona. I too like the way they are scanned and counted right away. This is my first election in CT. In NYC we had those ancient lever machines.

Posted by: Methinks | Nov 4, 2008 4:25:49 PM

GA used to have the same system, and it was great. Then in the wake of the 2000 election and all the associated hysteria we went to the electronic machines. I hate them, and it takes longer and it's harder to do. I especially hate not having the paper trail. The optical scanner system allows for genuine recounts, and the voting machines don't.

Posted by: MaxedOutMama | Nov 4, 2008 5:34:49 PM

Should give an update from my earlier experience. I went back at 5:00, expecting long lines due to people leaving work. I was wrong; I got in and out in 10 minutes. So, overall experience was good.

Posted by: DKH | Nov 4, 2008 6:08:23 PM

Took me less than 12 minutes from the time I pulled into the church parking lot. way better than the 3 hour early voting folks. TV did a segment on how the Az. type ballot confounds many folks. hunh?

Posted by: coyote little sis | Nov 5, 2008 4:28:08 AM

Less than 5 minutes in and out here in San Diego(east county suburban), even with the extraordinary number of Propositions,bond initiatives, etc that show up on the ballot in CA.

Posted by: Marc | Nov 5, 2008 8:44:11 AM

Linked to you and put my own two cents on the balloting here:

http://cardioblogy.blogspot.com/2008/11/elections-how-to-do-it-right.html

Posted by: Jens Fiederer | Nov 9, 2008 3:10:25 PM

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