The United States required New York state to change their polling machines. The old machines required people to walk into a curtained booth, pull a lever, mark their votes by flipping a switch for each position/policy decision, and push the lever again.
The new voting process debuted in the September primary and was panned by many voters, including NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, I prefer the new voting process.
1. Location, location, location: Under the old process the back of the machine faced the people. The curtain was supposed to protect the voter’s privacy, but too often had gaps which deprived the voter of privacy. The new process has 3-sided enclosed stands that opens facing a wall. No one can see from in front of you, and there IS no one behind you to see what you are doing.
2. Simplicity: The old machine required the voter to understand how the machine organizes information and polls. The new ballot is a piece of paper that just requires the voter to fill in ovals in appropriate places.
3. Write-In: The new process makes putting in a write-in candidate extremely simple. The old machines made it very complicated to write-in a vote. There were a few elections that I wanted to write-in a candidate, but I couldn’t get the machine to allow me to do so and I couldn’t ask for help with out….
4. Privacy: Because of the simplicity of voting and the ease of writing in a candidate, voters don’t need as much help from poll volunteers. Poll volunteers’ help decrease privacy. I once asked a volunteer for help under the old system. She saw my ballot and chewed me out for not voting for the candidates she preferred.
5. Speed: The old process had one dedicated polling booth per district. If one district had 10 people waiting to vote, and another district in that same polling center had none, the 10 people had to wait in a queue to use their district’s machine while the machine wasn’t used. Under the new process the enclosed stands and the scanning machines can be used by anyone from any of the districts.
6. Pressure: Because of the bottleneck that built up from the wait time to use your district’s voting booth, there was a lot of pressure to vote quickly. In fact, I’ve seen polling volunteers get upset with voters who took too long in the voting booth. Under the new system there isn’t the same pressure, so people have more time to mark their ballots correctly and answer all the ballot initiatives completely.
There are two caveats.
1. Type: It was rather small and probably difficult to read for people with sight issues.
2. Layers: There were so many candidates for governor that it went onto two rows. People might have gotten confused and thought they were supposed to vote for one from the first row and one from the second row.
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