Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Voting Experience Today

I voted in an elementary school gym. The voting computers were set up all in a row down the long side of the room. And all of us waiting were herded through lines back and forth across the gym. The voting computers were NOT turned away facing the wall directly behind them, but instead facing everyone in the lines. They had the little shields up on the computers, which prevented the people voting from seeing each other, but did nothing to prevent the rest of us from seeing exactly what was on the screen! From my position in line, I could see exactly where people were pointing on their screens, and in essence, exactly who they were voting for. That's when I leaned over to Michael and said,
"I am outraged."

Of course, I did nothing about it and instead resolved to write a strongly-worded blog post that will in effect, do nothing. And while I was there I figured... no one is standing outside with a gun ready to shoot me based on what I touch on the screen. I didn't really feel threatened.

Until the people behind me in line started talking. They were full of scathing remarks concerning the candidate that I was there to vote for. One of the voter organizers even came up and asked them to stop, and said, "Please, you're not supposed to say who you're voting for in here." The woman responded "I didn't." And after the man walked away, she said assertively "I can say whatever I want." I'm cutting out a lot of what they said, but basically it was enough to make me feel uncomfortable and offended.

So when I went to vote, I was standing at a computer right in the middle of the wall, at an angle where one of the lines behind me had an especially good view of my screen, and I was incredibly uncomfortable. I was actually embarrassed to choose my candidate's name, and I hit the "next" button quickly because I didn't want people to see, and I had to go back and make sure I had marked the right one. And I hate that I did that. I mean, I know my discomfort was somewhat irrational, but I saw several people from my neighborhood in there that I know and see often. What if they were like the people behind me in line? What if they could see who I voted for? How would they treat me hereafter?

Obviously, no one was waiting to hang me when I left my computer. But how would that woman in line behind me have treated me if she knew? She certainly wasn't holding back any of her scathing criticism in line. And it's not even her that I really have a problem with. Votes are supposed to be confidential! I've been watching the news today, and I've seen lots of other voting centers. Obviously the voting computers aren't 100% covered up from prying eyes. But I didn't see anything nearly as bad as our setup. The voting computers on tv occupy one half of a room, away from the line of waiting people. I am appalled that they would have the computers in our room set up completely facing the lines of people standing around.

I can't have been the only one to feel that way.


Kylen and Adrienne said...

The poll that my mom was at had a volunteer lady that was making harassing remarks to everyone in line, assuming that they were gonig to vote a certain way, and even bringing up stuff about California's issues. She had a terrible experience there, too and said she had to hold herself back from responding. That's too bad that some people have to bring their political rally inside the polls where it doesn't belong.

Barney Family said...

I'm sorry your experience was so miserable. We have to keep voting safe and comfortable or really the whole process is at stake. But the poll workers are people who normally do not have jobs. They receive a couple of hours of training and then get paid about $10/hour to stand there for 13 hours on election day. I went to the leaveyourprint.com website. It's not great, but there is a "contact us" link. I really think you should report your experience. There are people out there whose job it is to make sure this process goes well. They need feedback to do a better job training others for next time. Please report it.

heather said...

Bre - Our place was a little similar. people weren't talking smack about the candidates, but the whole ENTIRE workforce were people in my ward... and they were talking to caleb and i while we were voting. They weren't leaning over our shoulders or anything, but i felt like they could totally see who i voted for. I touched it so fast and moved on, i had to double check to. i personally think we should still have booths. we can have those little computer things in booths. why did they get rid of those? Also, okay .. so I'm practically a midget, so I can't see over to the next screen but I bet taller people can look over and see the screen right next to them without even trying. :0(