Low-tech voting on Super Tuesday

276493969_77c117b99a.jpg Hanging chads never looked so good.

After several years of voting touch screen in California elections, sometimes smoothly, sometimes with difficulty, itâ''s back to old technology. Old old technology. Paper and pen technology.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen last summer decertified machines made by Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Hart InterCivic; they can only now be used under special security precautions. So I voted the old-fashioned way. And it was chaos. There didnâ''t seem to be much organization to the way poll workers handed out the paper ballots; it would have been easy to get one without signing in, or verifying that I was at the right precinct. There was absolutely no privacyâ''the ballots were huge and easy to read at a distance. â''Privacy envelopesâ'' were supposedly available, a poll worker told me theyâ''d only received three, as I handed him my completely visible ballot. Somewhere in the back of all of this, a poll worker told me, sat one electronic voting machine for the visually impaired.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the city just settled a $3.5 million lawsuit against voting machine manufacturer AutoMARK, which had sold the city uncertified machines, necessitating hand counting of paper ballots in the November election. The city replaced them with machines from Sequoia Voting Systems for todayâ''s race, mostly devices that read paper ballots, but a few touch screens are out there for those who want to use them. This morning, blogger Kevin Ho faced the Sequoia voting machine red screen of death and watched voters using paper ballots stream past him as the system rebooted.

And, in New Jersey, Gov. John Corzineâ''s scheduled 6:15 a.m. vote was delayed nearly an hour as poll workers struggled to fix touch screen machines. These were also from Sequioa Voting Systems.

For those eager to hear election results, it may be a long night.

UPDATE:

My polling place again suffered from an election day paper shortage. Last year they ran out of paper for the printers and had to shut down the electronic voting machines. This year, many polling sites, including mine, ran out of paper ballots towards the end of the day. Late night news showed video of election workers xeroxing stacks of ballots to be driven out to the polls, where voters were waiting long past closing to vote.

So high-tech wasn't the answer, low-tech isn't the answer...November should be interesting.

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