I’m not sure how widespread this sentiment is or will become, but based onthis letter to the editor in the Guelph Tribune todaytalking about how horrible and evil they are andthe editorial in that same papersuggesting that the newbeeping ballot boxes used in this electionmay upset people, it definitely exists.
A lot of the complaining seems to centre around the idea that the second chance option that allows people to fix things if the machine detects markings which could lead to a spoiled ballot takes away a person’s right to a secret vote. The theory goes that if the machine beeps at you for not voting in all categories or the allowable number of times in each or even spoiling your ballot by accident or intentionally, you’ll feel singled out and like you’ve been denied your right to vote privately, as you choose.
Allow me, if I may, to rip this argument a new one.
First of all, I’ve never quite understood the point of spoiling your ballot on purpose. The vote is secret, so logically that means that nobody knows who you are or why you did what you did. Are you silently rebelling against some thing or other, or are you a knuckle dragging imbecile who can’t figure out the complexities of the letter X? Nobody knows. Spoiling your ballot as a form of protest has always struck me as one of those things that only makes sense if a whole bunch of people do it in an organized fashion and publicize the reason beforehand.
But more importantly, don’t talk to me about being deprived of your secret vote until you’ve walked a few miles to a few voting stations in my shoes, my friends. What’s less secretive than being told you have to rely on a friend or family member to vote on your behalf? What’s less secretive than having to get a clerk to help you fill out your ballot because there’s no accessible means of doing so? What’s less secretive than having a poll worker line up that next to useless contraption with the Braille numbers on it over your ballot, reading you the candidates off of another one and then watching as you make what you hope is a legible mark in what you hope to Christ is the right spot? That’s how blind people have been forced to vote for years, and I’m sure it used to be even worse before my time. Go ahead and spoil all the ballots you want, but think first about how gutted you’d feel walking out of the polls not knowing if your voice had been heard. That’s me in all but 2 elections…ever. Before this Guelph Audio voting business came along in 2006, I’d have killed for a second chance option. It would have been the only way I had to make sure that my vote would count, that I hadn’t just wasted my ballot or worse yet, voted for the wrong person because the thingie moved or the helpful voting lady was a little less than honest.
There’s also the idea that the extra few seconds it takes for the machine to do its thing could slow down voting and lead to long, annoying lines.
Again, tell it to somebody else.
It took me 15 minutes to vote yesterday, and that was after a 20 minute walk and a 20 minute wait while Carin took her 15 minutes on the only audio machine they had. Then there was the 20 minute walk back home. but you know what? I was happy to do it, because it’s pretty goddamn liberating to know that you’re going to be able to vote independently, no matter how long it takes. and during my waiting and voting time, I got to see that process in action, and when I said the few extra seconds, that’s literally all it takes. The machine looks at your ballot, it either checks out or it doesn’t, the worker lets you know there’s a problem and asks if you meant to do that or would like a chance to fix it, you say yes or no, and that’s the end of it. It doesn’t say “Excuse me, voter number 2731-3x2m, you have errored by voting for the hockey referee instead of the business man, please repeat.”, it just makes sure that you’ve made the choice you wanted to make. Again, I’d have committed a homicide to have such a luxury, and it slows down nothing. Voting yesterday took up nearly 2 hours of my life, so I have 0 minutes of time to listen to somebody bitch about standing in line for 5 or 10 more minutes.
Rather than dwell on what you think these new ballot boxes are taking away from you, take some time to consider what they’re giving not only to you, but to those of us that they actually go a long way towards empowering. They aren’t taking away your rights, they’re giving me mine. You have the same rights you’ve always had while mine are enhanced. I don’t understand how that can be seen as anything but a win win.