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.