Touch-screen voting on computers for president is a trip

This vending machine is right at waiting line to vote. I voted for Baked Cheetos.

If you are voting for president using the new touch-screen computers, give yourself some extra time. The computers use a six-step process that take about three times as long to vote.

1) Registration via pen and paper

2) Confirmation via computer tank

3) Voting on a touch screen

4) Touch screen confirmations

5) Paper printout confirmations

6) Am I done?

1) Registration via pen and paper

First you have to fill out a paper form with your name, address, and signature. Yes. Even though you are voting on a computer, the process starts with filling out a paper form. Ironic.

2) Confirmation via computer tank

You bring your paper form to the desk encased by blue-coated steel, about the size of a compact car. It’s basically a mini tank. The person behind the tank’s computer with huge vinyl buttons will attempt to type your name in and then will type it wrong and he/she will have to hit the “no” button about 20 times before it finally starts over. Gone are the days where you just show up and say your name and they look you up in the book of End Times. We now have the blue army tanks that tell us if you are allowed to vote.

3) Voting on a touch screen

Then the blue tank operator will finally hand you a card that looks like a transit card that you bring to the voting booth. You’ll insert this transit card into the computer at a voting booth. Someone will come over and stress to you that you don’t pull the card out when you are done voting. The card will eject itself. If you pull the card out prematurely, all your votes will be deleted, and you will have to start over.

Then you will vote and you’ll go through 12 screens of choices. This part is fun. You can use either your finger to vote or the plastic stylus. I started using my finger, but then saw the stylus and tried that. I tell you what. It’s fun wielding the stylus. I waved it around like a sword. Seriously. When I voted for Barack Obama, I pretended I was a in a fencing match and struck the winning blow.

My vote for Obama on the touch-screen computer

OBAMA WINS!

4) Touch screen confirmations

Then when you are done voting with your mighty stylus-sword, the computer will present you with four screens summarizing your votes asking you to confirm each screen individually.

5) Paper printout confirmations

Then it will start printing a paper receipt, just like at the grocery store. Only you don’t get to keep the paper receipt. It’s encased behind glass. When it fills up one glassful of paper, it will ask you to confirm that the paper is correct. When you confirm, it will print another glassful of paper and then ask you to confirm. This happens four times with the paper confirmations.

You will wonder where the paper goes when it prints, because it never comes out. You’ll look under the voting box thing, but you won’t see paper coming out. It simply goes back into the machine.

6) Am I done?

Once you are all done, then the transit card will pop out on its own. You’ll hand the card to the person who told you to not take out the card too early. He will ask you, “did you take the card out too early or did you wait?” You will say you waited. He will then take your transit card and hand you a piece of paper saying you voted.

And then you’ll hear other people at other voting booths say, “I think i took my card out too early.” And then the guy will say, “yes, you took your card out too early, and now we have to deduct you from the list, and make sure we subtract your vote from the tally, and start you all over again.”

You will walk out laughing at these silly people that don’t know how to operate a transit card. However, you will leave with a feeling that you never truly voted in the first place, because you never got to submit your paper ballot into a community box. Instead, your vote somehow remains in that little booth. You trust that somehow magically your vote got put into the bigger community pot.

They really need to rethink this computer voting. It’s way inefficient. Fraught with all sorts of user error. And you never have the physical satisfaction of contributing your vote to a larger community box. Submitting your ballot into a box is a really important thing, and it’s entirely missing from computer voting.

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Joanna Shalin Mattia
9 years ago

I did it yesterday and it was a bit confusing. Overall it didn’t take too long. I was glad I went early.

Sarah Renee
9 years ago

Thanks for convincing me not to vote early, Matt;) haha. Seriously, though, I have a feeling this will be a strikingly similar procedure to the one used on Election Day…which is scary. They may be tabulating votes for weeks after 11/6/12!

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