View Full Version : Paper ballot

Jack Heinlen
11-01-2004, 09:48 PM
I promised no politics for another 48 hours, and this isn't.

I voted today(Maine has an extended period) for the first time since I moved back. There is something reasuring about going to a white frame building on a hill, registering to vote by filling out a card that goes into a box, and being handed a paper ballot. Mark the boxes, seal it in an envelope, and sign the seal. Hand it back to the clerk.

I don't think I've ever before voted on a paper ballot in a presidential election. It was a pleasant feeling of being back in America. ;)

11-02-2004, 07:24 AM
I'm from a small town in upstate NY..Even ran for county office!
I too love paper ballots...We also had a phone like the one found in Maybury :D Rotate the handle, talk to the operator etc.
Obviously, I wish that there were at least paper ballots, as back up, supporting our votes regardless as to the machines used. Without them, it is going to be a field day for the lawyers who are already out there. No real proof of a vote.
Hence, this election ain't gonna be over until the last lawyer goes home :D

Ken Hutchins
11-02-2004, 07:27 AM
What's with the envelope and seal? No wonder Maine has budget problems, how much do they spend on envelopes and the cost of opening them. What!, sign the seal, that destroys the concept of secret ballot. We have paper ballots, that go directly into a locked box after you vote.

Jack Heinlen
11-02-2004, 07:59 AM
What's with the envelope and seal? No wonder Maine has budget problems, how much do they spend on envelopes and the cost of opening them. What!, sign the seal, that destroys the concept of secret ballot. We have paper ballots, that go directly into a locked box after you vote. I wondered about that also Ken, and agree wholeheartedly for both the reasons you cited. But it was the first time I'd voted in the state, so I didn't ask questions.

Maine governance is in need of streamlining. We have a property tax cap on the ballot because of people's frustrations about resistence in the Democrat controlled legislature. I voted against the cap because it seemed ill-thought-out; more an attempt to get Augusta's attention than useful reform.

What we need to do is vote in some fiscal conservatives who will take some difficult steps, like consolidating school districts, and rethinking programs like "no child without a laptop".

Eliminating those envelopes would be one, small, step that might eventually trickle down to fewer town clerks on the payroll. I'm not holding my breath. smile.gif

Joe Dupere
11-02-2004, 08:08 AM
It's probably because you voted early and the ballot is treated like an absentee ballot. When you go in and vote on election day, there are no envelopes for the ballots. You mark it, and put it into the machine where it gets counted.


Jack Heinlen
11-02-2004, 08:10 AM
Ah, that makes sense Joe.

11-02-2004, 09:11 AM
The election is today ... I've totally missed that ...



Dan McCosh
11-02-2004, 09:16 AM
Oddly enough, virtually the whole state of Michigan uses paper ballots. They are marked by the voter, then counted with an optical scanner--the same one used on most tests in schools. The system is reliable, cheap (only one scanner per precinct), fast to count, and leaves the paper ballot intact. Don't know why it isn't the national standard.

Jack Heinlen
11-02-2004, 09:32 AM
Boy, I'm with you Dan. Those scanners have been around for at least thirty years and are accurate and reliable. As long as the voter can figure out how to pencil in the ovals(if they can't, they shouldn't be voting, IMHO.) You've got a paper record. It makes perfect sense, and I imagine it is the Maine system Joe described, which I missed because of the way I voted.

These electronic ballots scare the bejesus out of me! Not only because of potential hanky panky, but also because of law suits due to the potential for hanky panky. If you know what I mean? And no paper trail! :rolleyes: :mad:

It's being said that this election has the potential to be 2000 Florida times ten. Gawd, I hope not. In anycase, a direct, sensible system, with a paper trail, like Michigan's and Maine's, is what we need.

Ian McColgin
11-02-2004, 09:53 AM
I like the paper fill in the glob space opti-scanner ballots as the technology is both reliable and humanly corrigible.

As I mentioned in the elections debates four years ago, I know that the bit with the hanging chads is true. We had the same system in the first primary after Gary Studds retired and it looked like my guy, Phil Johnson, had won. Bill Delahunt challenged as he knew the vote counts from his home precincts could not possibly be right. I was one of the partisan monitors watching the recount in my area. Delahunt picked up a lot of votes because many of the machines were defective and did not adequatly punch out his spot. Testing the machines showed that they counted Johnson just fine. It was not deliberate, just an accident of what parts of the machine had gotten worn down. Delahunt won the primary and later the election. I'm happy to say that he has turned out to be a wonderful congressman.

I'm old enough to remember the levers and even old enough to remember LBJ admonishing school children to make sure they just pushed the master lever on row B, vote straight democratic ticket, because if they start plucking here and picking there they'll skip some and pull two in others and generally invalidate their whole vote . . .

But even that was corrigible.

The problem with the purely electronic voting is the problem with Creationism: Both are incorribable.

By the way, there was already a line when I showed up at 0700 to vote. That was a first. Took me all of 15 minutes. I'm impressed with those Florida folk who are in line for hours.

May fortune favor the just.

Chris Coose
11-02-2004, 09:57 AM
I want to thank you for voting as you did on the tax cap.
It would have devistated Portland schools which would have deeply affected my youngest daughter and there is no question that my eldest daughter who began her teaching career in Thopsam this year would have lost her career.

I was told by my friend Jon Radke, chair of the Portland school committee, that any teacher in the greater Portland area, with less than 15 years of teaching, would likely be out of a job. He is not known to be a doomsdayer.

Did you see the two petitions that are far more resonable tax initiatives? I am good friends with both my House and Senate representatives. They have gotten the word. The governor needs to step up to leadership in Maine and I'm not sure he will.

km gresham
11-02-2004, 10:33 AM
I'd like paper ballots. Our youngest son who will be voting for the first time today (as will his brothers) has a tremendous distrust of voting machines of any kind. He wants a paper ballot - preferably with a carbon copy receipt. :D

Keith Wilson
11-02-2004, 11:14 AM
We have paper ballots in Minneosta, where you fill in the blob with the special pen and stuff it in the optical scanner. Works fine, easy to do, confirms that it scanned properly right away, not particularly expensive, and the part that wears out (the pen) is obvious when it fails and easily replaced. I've had too much experience with new electronic systms to be very optimistic about the all-electronic machines, not because of some dark conspiracy but just ordinary Murphy's law, and of course the election looks like it'll be so close, and the level of paranoia is so high, that ordinary glitches look ominous.

11-02-2004, 11:31 AM
Perhaps reliability should rank ahead of labour efficiency in a voting system. Particularly when the original cost benefit analysis probably neglected to take account of the legal labour hours which are becoming a feature of mechanised elections?

Bruce Hooke
11-02-2004, 11:37 AM
Here in Rhode Island we have paper ballots where you draw a line to connect the front and back of an arrow. It then goes into a machine that will bounce it back out if you:

A. don't vote for anyone, or
B. vote for two people for the same office.

A poll worker can override the system if you really don't want to vote for anyone, but they have to check to make sure that is really what you want to do. This is actually happening a good bit today because there is a city question that very few people are familiar with that is on it's own ballot, so a lot of people are chooosing to not vote on it. I also saw one ballot rejected because someone did not understand how to connect the lines -- they were instructed how to properly fill out the ballot and sent back to a booth to do so. If our system had not bounced the ballot back that person's vote would not have been counted.

The two failings of our system that I have seen are:

1. If the electronic thing you feed the ballots into goes down then there is a minor crisis at the polls! I was at one place this morning when that happened and things were tense for a bit until the problem got fixed.

2. The ballots are not very friendly to people with disabilities of some types and it is also hard to print the ballots in all the languages that might be relevant (our ballots are printed in English and Spanish). Something like 5% of the people over 5 years old in the city of Providence speak neither English nor Spanish "very well" so that is 5% of the population that cannot read our ballot.

I should note that the reason I saw so much is because I was a volunteer monitor this morning for the board of canvassers -- I was sent around to various poling locations as they were getting set up and opening up to make sure everything was running smoothly -- which, despite some minor glitches, I am pleased to say that it was.

High C
11-02-2004, 11:45 AM
One of the great weaknesses of a paper ballot, some types anyway, is that they are stacked and counted by humans. Observers in Florida in 2000 filed numerous complaints that they observed ballots in incorrect piles during the recounts. Who knows how many went unobserved?

I'm more comfortable with machines doing the counting than with humans doing it.

Keith Wilson
11-02-2004, 12:00 PM
The point of both the fill-in-the-blob and the punch-type paper ballots is that they can be counted by machine. Sometimes this works better than others, the pen type seems lot more reliable. In Florida, the first thing they did to recount was feed the stacks of ballots through the counting machines again, and only after that started counting by hand.