Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thoughts on Voting... and Voting Technology

I went to vote this morning before coming to work. I arrived at 8:30 a.m. to find a line out the door, around the corner, and a quarter of the way down the block. Wow! I thought that the morning rush would have been over by that time. But everyone seemed to be taking the wait pretty well and be excited to exercise their right to vote. In the end the wait wasn't that bad; although the line was long it kept moving along at a good clip and I was able to vote about 50 minutes after arriving at my polling place.

Inside I was surprised to see a number of people gathered around the same-day voter registration table. I was surprised since my precinct always has high turnout (in 2004 I believe it was 90% or better) so I didn't expect to see so many people in my precinct who weren't already registered! I'm so proud to live in Minnesota where we have such a clean, efficient, and inclusive voting system. I'm particularly pleased with the technology that we use here--the optical scan paper ballots. They're great for a number of reasons:

1) As a voter, you get a real paper ballot to hold in your hand and mark with a pen (rather than relying on a punch-card system or some such to mark it for you). There should be no question that you really voted for the people you wanted to vote for.
2) The optical scanner reads and records votes quickly and accurately.
3) If there is a question about the accuracy of the voting results, a hand-count can be done because voters have completed real paper ballots.

Combining this accurate, reliable and efficient technology with progressive policies (e.g. same-day voter registration) is the reason that Minnesota consistently has among the country's highest voter turnout rates (check out results from the Secretary of State's office here!) and yet lowest incidence of irregularities and complaints. Hoorah for Minnesota! How fabulous is it to live in the United States and the great state of Minnesota, where voting rights and responsibilities are taken seriously and exercised with care!

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