Monday, February 18, 2008

diebold democracy? i'd rather go back to pottery shards

Last week was the first time I'd ever voted in person. Absentee ballots from college in Virginia just never felt right; it was a thrill walking up to my old elementary school to participate in some democracy. Only it was Diebold democracy.

You see, Maryland uses those hip, new -- deeply flawed -- electronic voting machines. After a couple touchscreen selections, I could see how the interface had its advantages (although it wasn't really all that well designed). But once I'd finished voting, that was it.

No little slip of paper, nothing, just a sticker thrust on my chest by a retiree. I asked him how he felt about these new machines. He immediately became defensive and remarked about how for all the decades he'd been voting in Maryland, he never got a slip of paper at the end. Fine, but when holes were going into ballots that were dropped into boxes, you at least had the tangible knowledge of having voted.

Sure, anything could have happened thereafter, but I know how exploitable those electronic voting machines are. It was at this point that I caught myself sounding like a conspiracy theorist -- both from the words coming out of my mouth and from the expression on his face.

I acknowledged that it's obviously not his fault, he's just a volunteer manning the polls on what would likely be a very long, boring day. I only hoped it was something he was worried about, too. It just seems like an issue that every American -- regardless of political leaning -- would care about.

Maybe he'll see this recent report on Fox News (not a typo):

(thanks, reddit)