Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Machine Politics

So what did everyone think of the new voting machines? My biggest incentive to vote in today’s Illinois primary was to take the new machines for a spin.

Overcoming my earlier indecision, I wound up taking a Democratic ballot (I actually decided which ballot to take on the drive to the polls). I really wanted to vote against the name-changing Can-Do man. I don’t know much about the guy to be honest but the whole changing of the pronunciation of his name thing just weirded me out. Redpath is a known quantity and Poe will likely crush whoever wins anyway. I also wanted to cast a symbolic vote against Blagojevich. Are you starting to see my usual “vote against” predisposition emerging here?

As for the voting machines, I have mixed feelings. They are definitely cooler than the old punch cards but you know what, every vote I’ve ever cast, no matter where in the state I was living, has been cast on the old punch cards until today.

Most of my negative experiences with the new machine today were born out of unfamiliarity. That said, I do have a few problems with them.

First, it actually takes LONGER to vote with these machines than the old punch cards. I often do not vote for candidates running unopposed. There’s just something too Soviet style in voting for the only candidate on the ballot. There’s nothing nefarious about it, especially in a primary, but it just feels wrong to me casting a ballot when there is no choice. Anyway, the new machines make you revisit any portion of the ballot where you didn’t cast a vote the first time through. I understand the rational but I found it annoying when I skipped over so many sections.

Second, I thought it poorly thought out that inserting the paper ballot covered up the voting instructions. That’s a design flaw that can be corrected. I’m just not sure why it was not fixed before today when everyone was using these machines for the first time.

Finally, it seemed like there were still too many moving parts. You get a paper confirmation ballot that is coded when you are done voting electronically and a key card to insert into the machine when you vote. The guy in front of me forgot to remove his key card and I stood there for some time until he came back for it. A minor inconvenience but certainly one we never saw under the old system.

Those are some minor gripes and I’m sure it will be easier for me next time. I did fumble around a bit because it was all new but that’s OK, it’s a small learning curve and I’ll whip right through it come November.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see where the votes for Edwin Eisendrath will go. I heard some people who voted for him who are democrats say that they will vote for anybody except Blago. So maybe Topinka will reap the votes that Eisendrath received.