Thursday, October 25, 2007

Connecticut - Absentee Balloting And Voting With The New Scanner System

As you may or may not know, Connecticut has adopted a new voting system which requires the use of scanners and paper ballots, and has abandoned the traditional and trusty lever machines.

The absentee ballots are the same ballots that everyone else will use to vote, except they are yellow in color. The ballot is designed with bubbles to be filled in with pen or pencil to indicate your choice of candidate. In fact, in order to vote in Connecticut you must have your vote processed by the new scanner machines. There are no manual counts and there is no opportunity to avoid using a scanner machine. I personally do not trust that scanners will accurately count votes as well as mechanical lever machines. I also do not trust that the scanner machines are tamper proof. I am dismayed that I have no choice but to use these scanner machines to record my vote. I suppose the scanner's only redeeming quality is that there is a paper trail. How hard would it be though for some unscrupulous poll worker to slip in a bunch of pre-filled forms when no one is looking?

Anyway, I have to tell you that yesterday I assisted in a nursing home with absentee balloting and this new voting system is just awful for senior citizens.

These ballots are very hard for older people to read.

The older people and handicapped people that I assisted did not have the vision or small motor skills necessary to be able to fill in the bubble on their ballots easily. Now, the Secretary of State's office will tell you that they also have "vote by phone" available to handicapped persons, but these people that I assisted would most likely not be able to do that either, and the option was not offered to anyone that I know of.

How this new process is supposed to make it easier for these people to vote is beyond me. If anything, it was very difficult for them, and much more difficult then their being able to just mark an "X" next to a candidate's name - as was done on previous absentee ballots. For these people, it is much easier to indicate an "X" then to sit there and color in a bubble.

Well, the new voting system which CT has spent millions of dollars on is here to stay. I really hope that this will be proven to be reliable and worth the money spent. I'm not adverse to change or technology, but I am not convinced this was a step up.

In addition, while I believe that everyone who is a citizen and who is registered to vote should absolutely have the chance and ability to vote, I cannot understand how people who clearly do not have the mental faculties to vote, are allowed to cast a ballot (please, it is appreciated if you make no snide remarks to this comment; you know what I mean regarding issues of dementia, etc. in this regard).

Of course the Secretary of State's office is touting this new system as a success. Here's the instructional video: