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Beachcomber - Get in Habit of Voting

  • By David Barron
One of the pathetic things about elections, is how many people don’t vote, particularly in local elections. Anywhere from 10 to 30% of the registered voters participate in local city and school district elections. Then there are those people who vote only once every four years, in the presidential elections. Eight years ago, those people created a big problem in Florida because many of them were easily mixed up when they went to cast a ballot.

While voting is not exactly brain surgery, a voter must pay attention to the instructions and how they are actually marking the ballot. But if a voter only votes once every four years, it is easy to get mixed up with new voting systems and different types ballots. Adding to the problem was the antiquated rules and procedures that have not been updated, although voting systems have changed.

There are many types of ballots and if you vote regularly, you might use three different systems, depending on who is running the election – the county, the city or some other agencies.

We no longer use voting cards to punch a hole to cast your vote. That system was outlawed in the last presidential elect because there were too many “pregnant chads” and “dimples” and the difficulty in trying to figure out the voter’s intent. Did they really mean to punch a hole and select that candidate but the voting pin didn’t go through? Did they change their mind?

This is particularly true when a voter is marking an absentee ballot. Sometimes people make mistakes or change their mind after they have marked their ballots. They use scotch tape, white-out, you name it, to correct an error on the ballot. At a polling place they could simply ask for a replacement ballot, but an absentee voter can’t do this. Yes, you can ask the election city or county election office to mail you a second ballot, but that takes some time, and you can’t wait to request a new ballot the day before the election day.

At the polling place, the most popular form of voting systems today is one that allows the voter to use a stylus pen with a felt-tip marker. You press the stylus directly into a hole next to your selection. This works well, 99% of the time. However, if a voter does not press hard-enough or if the ballot card is not lined-up right, there is a possibility that they can mis-vote.

It is very important for voters to take a minute to inspect their ballots and double check that the marks are on the correct number before dropping the card in the ballot box.

So don’t be in too much of a hurry when you go to vote, take the time to check and double check.

As a past poll worker, I remember an experience where a well-dressed gentleman rushed in to vote. He declined a demonstration of how to use the voting machine and grabbed his ballot and went to vote. A few minutes later, he came back with a “sheepish” look on his face, stating that he couldn’t insert his ballot in the voting unit. After a quick demonstration, he turned back to the voting booth and quickly voted, dropped his ballot in the box and left. He couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

I couldn’t understand how he had voted so fast because there were a number of judges up for election and scores of state and local measures. Oh well, not my problem.

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