Monday, September 25, 2006

No on Paper Ballots

It sounds like a good idea and has even led MocoPolitics to give kudos to Ehrlich for being right on this one but a last-minute switch to paper ballots strikes me as inadvisable even though I understand its allure. It sounds so simple. Just print more absentee ballots and hand 'em out on Election Day to registered voters.

Unforunately, it is not so simple. First, one would have to retrain all of the poll workers on how to handle the ballots. Sounds simple for handling paper ballots but not so easy when it involves retraining thousands of poll workers at the last minute. Moreover, poll workers do a lot more than check people off a list and hand out ballots (just look at the size of the manual used by election judges). Retraining all these workers is simply not possible.

Second, new voting areas with appropriate privacy screens would have to be set up at every single polling place in the state. It doesn't sound that difficult but you try coordinating the setting up of appropriate tables and privacy screens for precincts around the state with only around fifty days lead time. Don't forget that they must be disabled accessible.

Third, the legislature would have to meet in special session to pass any new changes. What is the chance of the General Assembly and Ehrlich agreeing on a piece of legislation that would actually improve the situation rather than throwing it into complete chaos? Remember the clock is ticking and Election Day would be even closer by the time the wrangling is done so the Board of Elections would have even less time to implement changes.

And these are just the problems that came to mind at 1AM.

We are just going to have to muddle through with these machines one last time. I already posted on the key steps which need to be taken to assure a reasonably satisfactory election on November 7th. I was pleased to learn that the Board of Elections is already working on backup ballots for precincts with problem voting or check-in machines. This should hopefully prevent a repeat of the mistaken misuse of provisional ballots for non-provisional voters but is far less complex than simply junking the old system in its entirety.

Fortunately, the provisional ballots suggest that the machine probably tallied the results fine as the results from the provisional ballots overwhelmingly matched the machines. There is a solution for those who don't want to vote by machine: vote absentee. If you don't trust the mails either, go to the Board of Elections and cast your absentee ballot in person there. It's far from perfect but frankly I'll settle for good enough for this one election.