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I voted, using the new touch-screen voting machines…

November 8, 2005, 5:35 PM

Today after work, I voted in Virginia’s 2005 gubernatorial election. We’ll see whether the guy I voted for ends up winning or not.

This year, things were a bit different in the voting-equipment category. Through the 2004 election, voters in Augusta County used these old, mechanical voting machines. These things were great. They were this awful institutional-blue color with plaid curtains. They looked like they came straight out of the 1950s. Those things had charm. First, you pulled the big blue lever with the red handle. That closed the curtain, and you were ready to vote. Then you pulled the little red levers to make your selection, and it made a “chink” sound. Then when satisfied with your selection, you pulled the big handle again, it made a whole bunch of mechanical noises like “ka-chink” to record your vote, reset all the levers, and then opened the curtain. Vote cast.

Like I said, I loved those old machines because they had charm. Completely mechanical. I think that the only electricity required for them was used to power the lights inside the booth.

Now these new Unilect “Patriot” voting machines are different. They’re touch-screens, and they’re very easy to use, but they lack the charm of the old mechanical voting machines. They’re quite small – just a touch-screen on a table, with tall sides around it to ensure privacy while voting. You touch a button to start, then pick your candidates by touching their name on the screen. At the end, you touch a button to proceed to the review screen, and then confirm your choices with another touch of a button. After you’ve confirmed, a green screen comes up thanking you for your selection, and you go home.

Nice system, but the only thing that disturbs me is that there is no paper receipt on these things to facilitate a manual recount in close elections. I admit that in this very “red” county, where most people are Republicans, I consider it unlikely that a manual recount will happen here, but just in case, it’s important to have. I hope this can be implemented in the future.

Interesting was how they did it before you got to the machines. They did the usual check-you-off thing, and gave you a paper “voter pass”. I walked three steps with that pass to give it to the guy standing there collecting them. My comment: “How low-tech!” That got a chuckle. Then they sent me over to the other corner to get assigned to a voting machine.

All in all, not bad. Like I said, though, I wish our machines had a printed paper record as well.

Meanwhile, I’m just glad that the campaign is over. I am so sick and tired of seeing the negative campaign advertisements, flyers, etc. that were being spewed out by the Jerry Kilgore campaign by TV, mail, etc. I can’t stand these things, preferring to do my own research into the candidates. But what really burned me up is what happened this morning when I got in my car to go to work. Someone, under cover of darkness, had put a Kilgore flyer on my car under my windshield wiper while it was sitting in my driveway at home. I consider it one thing for people to put flyers in the cars in a parking lot, though I am against that as well, and do not patronize any business that puts their trash on my car. Aaron’s in Waynesboro is on my crap-list for that specific reason. I consider it an entirely different story when people place flyers on my car while it’s sitting in my driveway at home. If only I’d caught the guy in the act. Ah, well.

So there you go. As I said, I’m just glad the election is over.