Casting a Vote in California: Personal Challenge, Day 51 (11.6.12)

wpid-PhotoGrid_1352221373682.jpgToday was my first experience with the voting process in California. Previously, I voted absentee for the state of Michigan and all of my other voting experiences have taken place in Michigan. I never thought I would say that the process in Michigan was more organized and easier to understand than the process here in California.

When I first arrived at my assigned polling place, I had no idea where to go. In Michigan, there would have been balloons and signs galore as well as people helping you. Also, there was only one line. When I walked into my polling place, it was chaotic. No one knew where to go. There were two tables with four people sitting at a table. One was an orange table and I think the other was green. I just went over to the orange table because it was the closest to my entrance. Also, in Michigan, there was only one entrance and one clear exit at our polling place. I noticed several people walking around confused.

I just stood there until a young girl down at the end of the orange table said she could help me. She had to check to see if my name was on the list or if it was at the other table. Thankfully I was on her list. Then she told me I had to see the woman sitting next to her. So I stood in a makeshift line again, waiting to see the next woman who was just check for my name again, on another list. Then she said I had to see the guy next to her. The next guy described the voting process to me—using the little punch card method (it is scantrons in Michigan). Then I went to the next guy who finally gave me a punch card ballot and told me I could go to any of the booths with the machine to fill out my ballot.

I was surprised that there was no real privacy in the voting booths. But I proceeded over to the booth, filled out my ballot then went over to a young man sitting in front of the ballot box scanner. He asked for my ballot. He handed me my ballot receipt, gave me a sticker and told me to load my ballot into the machine. I asked if there was a specific way to place the ballot into the scanner. He said I could just put it in any way I wanted. That didn’t sound right to me. I know, as a teacher, that if you don’t put the scantron in correctly, the machine won’t read it and your scores won’t count. But I had no real privacy in my voting. The guy looked at my ballot. He might have seen who I voted for based on the holes punched and if he didn’t want my vote to count, he could tell me to put my vote in the ballot box the wrong way and my vote won’t count. I just put it in the way I hoped was right but now I am left wondering if I did it correctly.

In Michigan, the privacy of your vote mattered. You were given a scantron ballot in a folder. When you were done filling out your ballot, you placed your ballot back into the folder. You would walk over to the poll worker, they would pull off your voter receipt, a small tab sticking out of the folder—the rest of your ballot remained hidden behind the folder. Then you walked over to the scanner, they instructed you on the proper way to insert your ballot (with directions on the folder as well) and you inserted your ballot. Once it was cleared, they would give you your voter sticker and direct you to the proper exit. You left there knowing that you had indeed voted correctly and that your vote was counted.

So I do have to say that I think California needs to reorganize their voting system. I do so prefer voting in Michigan. But at least I went out to vote, I just hope it is actually counted.

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