Voting shouldn’t take half a work day

Electronic voting machines were supposed to make going to the poll and tabulating the results faster with less potential for fraud.  Not here in Richland County, South Carolina.

Widespread failure of machines and too few poll workers caused most voters in this county, home of the state’s capital city, to wait 2, 3, even 4 hours to get through the process yesterday.  Many voters simply couldn’t wait in line that long and didn’t cast their ballots.

Employers, especially small businesses, while wanting their workers to vote were rightfully angry that their employees were off the job for hours.  Workers standing in long lines are workers not doing the jobs their being paid to do.  Every voter standing in line for that long is a potential customer not shopping at a local business.  Every business owner standing in line that long is an entrepreneur not watching the “store”.

Obviously the same problem occurred in precincts across the country yesterday.  Where it happened my guess is that the voters put through this torturous process or who were disenfranchised would have preferred the old paper or punch card ballots with more poll workers on duty.  We actually can track ballot boxes with GPS now so losing them would not be an issue.  As for ballot-stuffing fraud, at least we can investigate that and hold people responsible.  The potential for hacking into electronic voting machines is real and is much harder to prove.

For all the money governments have poured into this new voting technology, the machines fail at far too great a rate for a piece of equipment only used a couple times a year.  And don’t blame the operators.  They might be too few but the machines fail in every precinct.  One at mine precinct was down and I was one of the first to vote. 

If we really want citizens to exercise their right to vote, then we need to make the process simpler and throw out the technology that isn’t doing the job.  I will be very interested to see the analysis of New Jersey’s forced experiment with email and fax voting. 

The big voting machine manufacturers will fight against alternative voting methods but we have listened too long and spent too much money on their promises of voting simplicity and efficiency. 

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