New-Fangled Voting Machine Confuses Old-Fangled Voter
My mom doesn’t like change. She’s spry for her age, which is on the “pushing it” side of “over the hill. According to her, she’s seen enough change in her life that she’s like things to stay the same from now on. I can’t fault her for that.
I love her. She’s the only parent I have. That means she’s my mom and my dad. That also means that I have to accept that she:
- will never own a computer.
- won’t read my books unless they’re in print because e-books aren’t real.
- doesn’t trust dishwashers.
- won’t throw anything away because she “might need that someday.”
You need to know these things because a few years ago her county in NYS went ahead and changed the voting process from the old click-the-lever behemoth phone-booth-sized machines to scanned paper ballots. This threw Mom for a loop, and Mom doesn’t do loops very well. Thank goodness she got her first scare during a school budget vote.
When she walked in and didn’t see the bank of
phone voting booths, she almost turned around and went home. But Mom never misses a chance to vote. She’s a naturalized citizen and knows more about American history than most Americans do. She takes her role as an American Citizen and her right to vote very seriously. She understands that it’s both a right and and privilege every time she clicks that lever.
Only now she doesn’t have a lever to click.
Mom was serious enough about voting to give this new-fangled process a try. Hey, it was just a school board vote. She signed in and got her large-screen-TV-sized ballot. Then she sat down at one of the little sectioned-off areas of a table and picked up this thick pen. She saw that she had to mark the dot of the School Board Candidate she wanted and then mark “Yes” or “No” on the school budget and several other items.
She picked up the pen and dabbed the circle. Nothing. She dabbed harder. Nothing. She tried looking around, but thought that people would think she was cheating or something, so she raised her hand, hoping someone would come over and help. Luckily someone did.
“Do you need some help?”
“Yes. I’m trying to mark my ballot and nothing is happening,” she replied. My mom blushes easily and she was blushing.
“Let’s see if we can get you another pen.” The person left and returned with another pen.
“Thank you.” Mom is very polite. The person walked away to give her privacy. Again she pushed the pen on the circle. Nothing. She tried both ends of this new pen. Nothing.
She raised her hand again. “Yes?” asked the same person.
“This still isn’t working.” My mom’s voice was getting a little pitchy now. Voting should not be this hard. It was never this hard before. She was thinking this but was too polite to say it.
“Well, let’s see what I can do.” The person took the pen from Mom’s hand, pulled off the cap and tested the pen on a scrap piece of paper. “Hmm. The pen seems to have plenty of ink.”
Mom’s mouth just dropped. She thought because this was a 21st century way of voting, that the pen must be “magic.” You know, invisible ink or press and Presto! Vote-o!
She voted, and with head hung low, she walked to the man operating the “shredder thing” (known to most of us as the vote scanner). Mom let him insert her ballot.
Let’s hope she had better luck this year! Let’s hope you do, too! Make sure you vote, okay? Mom would expect nothing less of you!