Get Out and Vote!

Today’s the day, if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain later.

I’m such a dork. Yesterday, I was sitting at my computer when my calendar popped up a reminder to “VOTE!” in 16 hours. I think I scheduled that appointment last month some time.

The line at my polling place stretched out the building and down the sidewalk. Last time I voted there might have been 10 people in the building, including the poll workers. The wait was cold and windy. This is the coldest Austin has been this fall.

After about 30 minutes in line a polling worker emerged to make sure everyone in line was at the right place. Turns out someone had been waiting for over an hour at the wrong precinct. She gave a long-winded description of her precinct. Then someone asked her the precinct number. We were in the right place. About 20 minutes later, we were trained on the use of the new “slate” electronic voting machines. It uses an LCD screen and a scroll wheel, no touch screen and no auditable paper trail[1].

About 10 minutes later we were ready to vote. We gave our registration cards and ids to the poll worker. She asked if our address was correct and current. Then she gave our information to the next worker. The next worker looked up our names in the voter roll and had us sign the roll. We were given a green slip of paper with the word “QUALIFIED.” We gave the slip of paper to another man referred to as the “JVC.”

The JVC operated a console connected to the voting slates. He printed out a receipt with a control number on it. You went to the next available receipt and selected you language and then entered your control number. You used the scroll wheel to select you candidates. After a review, you pressed the red “Cast Ballot” button.

I don’t think Brianna wanted to stand in the cold wind for over an hour to cast her vote, but I made her. I know it is too hard to make yourself do it later. We kept each other company and had fun. When we were finished she called her friends to make them go vote as well.

The polling lady said the line at the polling place was unexpected. She normally only has three or four people at a time. I don’t know if the line is due to increased participation or due to the new technology.

[1] An auditable paper trail? Technology is great and can make counting the votes faster, but software can have bugs, and computers can be hacked. Without a paper trail there is no way to perform a manual recount and no way to know that the database recorded my vote for Candidate A and didn’t just show me on screen that I voted for Candidate A.