May 28, 2009

Second letter to the editor re write-ins, letter to the editor of the Intelligencer, May 28, 2009:

Bucks machines get negative vote

To the Editor:

The assumption in your editorial, "Learning how to vote," that it is the responsibility of voters to know how to vote on a voting machine, is flawed. Tests of mental acuity, literacy or mechanical ability cannot be used to determine who can vote, and therefore, the voter cannot be required to know how to vote on a machine.
The Danaher voting machine we use here makes counting the votes easier for the election officials, but it places obstacles in the way of voters having their intended votes accurately counted.

The use of the write-in function is only one of the obstacles. The voters may not know that there are write-in instructions because they are on the left side of the machine, instead of next to the write-in mechanism itself, where voters might see them, if they are tall enough. If the voters do master the write-in function, after they finish pushing the buttons for all their candidates on the ballot, they also need to remember to push the "vote" button at the bottom of the machine to cast the ballot.

But the biggest problem with this voting machine is that there is no way to know if the voters' intended votes have been accurately counted, as there is no permanent paper record of these votes, external to and independent of the machine's software programming. Ironically, only the handwritten write-in votes can actually be seen and counted.

Bucks County commissioners need to discontinue the use of this Danaher voting machine and replace it with an easier and more accurate method of voting. Voters need to mark their votes themselves on a paper ballot so that a permanent record of all their votes exists for an accurate count, and recount if necessary.

Madeline Rawley

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