Electronic Voting Experience
Today was my first experience using one of the new electronic ballots. Based on newspaper articles that bemoaned the fact there was no longer a paper trail, I was quite curious about the hardware. I asked the nice poll worker, an elderly gentleman who was probably in his eighties, how it worked. He was fascinated about how it would keep all the data on one magnetic card which could be instantly tallied when the polls closed. The card looked like a typical secure media card used in most cameras, but thicker than the type I use.

Interestingly enough, the poll worker kept the card on his person and stood near me as I entered my votes. I'm not sure if he stood near me in case I could not figure out how to use the new technology (just a touch screen interface, pretty simple for anyone with PC skills) or if this was another security measure. However, if I had been a political partisan out to steal an election with a prepared magnetic card, I was not given the opportunity to swap cards.

I was pleasantly surprised when I had finished casting my votes as my selections were printed on some thermal paper to the left of the touchscreen. The computer then prompted me to review the printout and asked me to confirm that all was correct. If it was not correct, there was a mechanism for making changes. However, upon my confirmation, the printout scrolled out of site so the next person would only see blank paper. The scrolling paper was secured behind a heavy duty plastic shield so I had no direct access to the printout at any time. Thus, my electronic ballot did indeed produce a paper trail which will be archived. And if anyone every did suspect either electronic tampering or, more likely, a power or programming failure that caused the electronic votes to be lost, my vote would still have counted.

When I stepped away from the machine, the poll worker swooped in and quickly retrieved the data card to secure on his person until the next voter arrived. My conclusion: Someone put some real thought into this particular electronic voting machine and I doubt my state will have any problems from the machines themselves assuming they stand up to heavy use.

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