So yesterday was Election Day in the United States and like the good American that I am, I did my patriotic duty and joined Earl as we headed to the town hall to cast our votes. Last year our town hall was the beta tester for the new electronic voting machines that made their official debut last night and I have to say that I am still very, very uncomfortable with these new machines. I was very vocal to everyone that would listen about how I felt about the machines and many of the Important Voting People agreed with me.

Here are my issues with the new electronic voting machines:

1. They are suppose to be more accessible for those that had a hard time pulling the lever next to the name of the person they wanted to vote for. To remedy this situation, the new system involves taking a magic marker and colouring inside a little dot next to the name of the person that you’re voting for. If a voter does not have the dexterity to grab onto a lever and pull it down, I doubt they’re going to be able to wrap their fingers around a pen and colour neatly within the dot.

2. Any shrouds of privacy have been removed. In the old days, you went into this booth like device where a big, red handle awaited. The voter then swung the handle to the right, and hopefully it would close the curtain behind you, turn on the light so you could see what you were doing and reset the machine to ‘zero’, all with the swing of that red handle. Now you are given a scorecard with the aforementioned magic marker and herded over to a cubicle with flappy sides which is in very close proximity to other voters. There’s no privacy. Anyone can look over your shoulder. I saw that the person standing to my right was a staunch Republican because he had coloured in the Republican dot on his row. He had even marked one dot per column, where in some cases there were two columns requiring only one vote between them. So not only did I know his vote, I knew he was doing his vote wrong1;. By the way, the mechanical machines would not have allowed him to pull too many levers down.

3. This is one is the biggest concern for me: these electronic voting machines are electronic, do not print out a receipt and have been programmed by human beings using a closed source program. I firmly believe that any programming code (otherwise called source code) used on a publicly owned computing device for the purpose of voting in our elected officials should be programmed with open source code where anyone could see what makes the machine tick. I don’t trust our government so I’m sure as heck not going to trust a company working for the government using trade secrets. The fact that there is not that much stink made about this sort of thing makes me angry in unmeasurable ways, however, I’m not surprised because the majority of the population is too lazy to think and would rather be spoon fed their media and thought processes.

Prior to the introduction of these electronic voting machines I felt a sense of honour and duty whenever I cast my vote. I was making a difference and old people using older, proven technologies were making sure that my vote counted. When I walk away from casting my ballot now, not only do I feel dirty from having to basically choose from the lesser of two evils, I feel cheated as an American because I have no idea where my vote went and if whoever wrote the program in the first place approved my vote based on their parameters.

Like electronic toilets and sinks2 in public wash rooms, we have taken a step backwards in one of the most important elements of our country.

1 I watched this man feed his scorecard into the machine, and it did not complain about the errors of his vote. The mechanical machine would have never let that happen in the first place. One is left to wonder, did his entire ballot get nullified or just that vote?

2 In the past three months, I have seen at least six boys or men become dumbfounded because the manual sink wouldn’t turn on when they thrust their hands under the spigot. I had to turn the sink on for one young lad who was old enough to grow peach fuzz because he kept going from sink to sink and said they were all broken.