Voting? Paper or Plastic?

So after all the brouhaha about how the elections officials in Santa Clara County were directing their people not to offer paper ballots when there were those oh so reliable electronic voting machines, guess what I was asked when I got to the registration table in Mountain View City Hall? Electronic or Paper?

I picked paper. Then the ladies filling in the paper ledger circled “P” for paper, I signed on the line with a pen and off I went to sit down at a table to make my decision. The way people have been doing it in our country for over 200 years.

And probably a good things seeing as BoingBoing is reporting that another Santa Clara County resident got the voting machine equivalent of the blue screen o’death. Luckily for all of us he was armed with a camera phone to protect his right to vote. Other Santa Clara County voters’ experiencesweren’t as easy as mine. My co-worker voted at the firehall in Mountain View and was asked why she wanted one and given a quilt trip for having asked for a paper ballot. And from what’s written on BoingBoing other people in Santa Clara County are having similar experiences. Um, aren’t we by law entitled to a paper ballot? And isn’t it against the law for polling stations to hinder that request? Hmmm…

As for hindering voting, my friend told me that she did the electronic version and there was no way for her to write in a candidate. Nader is a write in candidate here in California, for those not aware. The guy who’s running for president from jail is on the ballot, but we can’t easily write in a guy that’s trying to get the US to go for a legitimate three party system. That will have to wait until next time I suppose.

During the half hour that I was in line and could actually see the voting area ( I was in line for an hour from 7 to 8 am) there were only a handful of people that chose the paper method. I was talking to a guy in line and was mulling over with him whether or not I was going to go the paper route. He said, “If it was any place other than California, then I’d do paper.” Without getting to intrusive, I could only infer he meant that if he was in a swing state, and he felt that his vote really could make a difference, he would certainly vote paper. I consider it a bit of a social faux pax to ask someone in line who they’re voting for. Following that thought with him would have led me down that route.

But despite the electronic voting system, lines continued to be long. Maybe it’s because Californians have 31 decisionsto make while standing there. Sitting down, I breezed through the paper ballot while other people were left standing to figure out the touch screens.

For those wondering why I chose paper. Electronic voting in the way that it’s implemented right now, does not sit well with me. What happens if someone decides they’re going to let off an EMP and knock out all the machines causing them lose all their data? Or more likely, what happens if votes need to be recounted? Where’s the paper trail? Also, how do I know that the people I voted for are what was recorded in the system? I don’t right now. But I do know if I mark the paper myself. It’s more manual intensive, but I know that I haven’t been disenfranchised by a malfunctioning computer.

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