1 vote, 2 vote, 3 vote
To the Editor:
The problems with write-in votes in our recent primary were not, as the Bucks County Board of Elections and your recent editorial suggest, exclusively the fault of voters failing to follow instructions.
I attempted to write in a vote at my poll and followed the instructions to the letter. When the door lifted for me to enter my vote, a previous voter's mark was already there.
Attempting to rectify the situation, the judge of elections joined me inside the booth while speaking directly to the Board of Elections. He reset the machine as instructed, marked the paper indicating the reset, and we repeated the write-in process. This time when the door opened, the judge's signature was visible where my vote should have gone.
For my third attempt, I was led to a different machine, where I repeated the process again and was finally able to cast my vote. Meanwhile, the first machine was closed down as inoperable. It remained that way for at least an hour until the machine technicians arrived and replaced the paper-feed mechanism. When they tested the replacement, it also failed before any voter had been near the machine. They replaced it again with a third device before fixing the problem.
The electronic machines purchased by the county continue to have significant problems, especially with write-ins. And, of course, we still remain at the mercy of the software inside the machines - absolutely unable to verify whether the final vote totals accurately reflect the voters' actual selections.
What we still need is an optical-scan system employing paper ballots that are marked by the voters' own hands, counted electronically for efficiency and retained securely for recounts and random auditing of machine accuracy. Until then, we will continue to disenfranchise voters and frustrate their will in the birthplace of democracy. What an embarrassment.
And, for the record, I have no idea if I cast one or three votes for all the other races on the ballot last Tuesday, and no one else knows, either.
The writer is vice chairman of the Bucks County Democratic Committee.
May 24, 2009
Letter to the editor re write-ins
PhillyBurbs.com, letter to the editor of the Intelligencer, May 24, 2009: