Thursday, August 09, 2007

Could We Please Have Some Privacy?

There are differing opinions of our new fangled voting machines (which, by the way, I heard have just been declared outdated). There are, of course, differing opinions about candidates. There are differing opinions about the election results (or lack thereof). But there is one election opinion about which everyone seems to agree.

Could we please have some privacy when we vote? One of the foundations of our country is the secret ballot. But we sure don't have that here. Something needs to be done about this - and soon. I talked to a representative from the Secretary of State's office and was told that local election officials are supposed to arrange them for privacy. Well, that's ridiculous. Unless you have a handful of machines in a gymnasium, that will never work. You can read those machines from a mile away. I personally don't care if anyone looks at how I vote - I'm usually proud of it and will tell anyone. But a lot of people are very private about it, for various reasons - and they have the right to privacy. I know of several people who did not vote just for this reason.

There has to be a solution to this problem. Let's have some comments with ideas that you have.

I was reminiscing with some other old fogies about the old days, when we had actual voting booths. (You'll notice the expression "voting booth" is still around, although the booths are long gone.) You walked into a booth and pushed a large handle which closed the rear curtain. The ballot would not work on the machine until the curtain was closed. When you finished voting, you moved the handle back to open the curtain. That same move of the handle registered your vote and made the machine inoperable until the next person came in.

At the end of the election day was when the fun started. Each candidate could authorize a person to stay inside the precinct when the polls closed and when the door to the building was locked. The poll worker would use keys to unlock the back of each machine and call out the numbers for each candidate. When that machine was finished, all the candidate representatives would look at the numbers to be sure they were right. Then the pollwork took out the counter and put it in a locked box. This continued until all the machines were counted.

It was very exciting to be involved. As each number was called out, you would hear cheers and moans. If it was an election with lots of candidates, there could be a lot of very nervous people in that room. This was before the days of cell phones, and we were cut off from the rest of the world while we were in there. You were supposed to call your numbers into your candidate's headquarters the minute you got out - so you had already lined up a phone to use as near to the polling place as possible. When the doors opened, everyone took off running - it looked like the beginning of a marathon.

The pollworkers then took all the locked boxes to the County office and made their reports in writing. So a well organized campaign with a person in each precinct would know the results before the county did. Candidates who were missing numbers would call around to other campaigns to try to get those numbers.

One time I was at a precinct that had a lot of trouble getting the machines to open, and we were very delayed in getting out. When we burst out the door, we were totally shocked to be met by a huge crowd of people, including reporters and TV cameras. Every other precinct was in but ours, and a major election depended on the results. Pretty exciting!

Ah for the good old days!


Anonymous said...

I loved voting booths. More satisfying and dramatic than
the little tables we currently use.

Anonymous said...

I called a friend of mine who will be in the runoffs in three weeks to ask about the absentee ballot count.

He was just short of livid. Seems the three ladies in charge of the counting can only work from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and at the close of today had only counted 5 boxes with 20 or so to go.

Perhaps they cn be replaced with 3 younger ladies or men who can take this more seriously and put in more time.

This may not be that important to them but it is to a helluva lot of other people.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect in Dick Cheney's America?

Anonymous said...

I see your point Casey. I like the new voting machines though, but some privacy would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Famous Words of Mrs Seale chairman of democratic committee, I like to sleep late, ha ha, If I were Burns,Johnson, Hollaway, Walker or Vines, I would also be livid, this isnt the first time they have done this. The longer it takes the better the chance Slinky has to getting re elected and believe me HE KNOWS THIS, the current absentee votes are gonna go 60-40 white to black. MAYBE JUST MAYBE HE WILL NOT EVEN MAKE IT, this is when he contests the election, AT that point the election on the 28th will be for nault, and the county will have to hold a special election costing the taxpayers 5k each and I say each special election, because this is a repeat of our tax assessors race 12 yrs ago, just watch and see.......

Anonymous said...

FYI - only those who voted in the Republican primary last Tuesday are ineligible to vote on the 28th. If you voted Democratic or didn't vote at all on the 7th, you can vote on the 28th.