Saturday, December 17, 2011

Voting problems I observed (Nov. 7, 2008)

Though I was primarily occupied with tracking down registration problems, from time to time one of my PEB runners (the three people who were putting people in booths and initializing the booth with a device called a PEB) would call me over to observe something or answer a question.

By law, I am not allowed to give any advice on the candidates or other ballot issues, but if there is a problem in the voting process itself, I need to know about it. For instance, I need to know if a machine is malfunctioning.

One thing I saw come up a couple of times was -- and here I wish I had violated my own rule and photographed it -- a tendency for the voting machine to refuse to register a voter's choice when the screen was pressed. I think the situation went like this:
- Voter pressed a "Straight Ticket" choice
- Voter went into a particular race and tried to change the pre-selected choice to a different candidate
- Machine rejected the request with a message like "too many choices selected", meaning, apparently, that the voter was trying to choose two candidates for an office when only one was allowed.

The pre-selected candidate was in yellow. Others were in white. I think what happened was that voters did not know that if you wanted to change a vote from a straight-ticket pre-select, you first had to unselect the pre-selected candidate, and only then select a different candidate.

I know this happened at least twice.

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