Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Voted

Yes, that was my voice you heard on the radio if you were listening to KCUR 89.3 yesterday afternoon. I gave a "person-on-the-street" interview when I exited the polling station yesterday morning. Asked about Missouri's new voting equipment (I filled in circles on a paper ballot and fed it into the ballot box) I replied that my voting experience had been positive and I was glad to know that a paper record had been left of my vote.

There are a million ways to commit voter fraud. Parties and candidates can spread voter misinformation, telling voters that polling places and dates have been changed, or that eligible voters are ineligible. Poor precincts can be improperly supplied with insufficient or faulty equipment. You can "create" voters illegally and stuff the ballot boxes. You can employ the brute-force technique and physically remove ballots or machines before the votes are tallied, or change votes on the sly. But shouldn't we all agree that there should be a safety in place whereby it is possible to verify that all votes cast are correctly tabulated? How else can you do this without a physical record of the vote? It worries me that electronic "touch-screen" voting machines don't create a physical record.

Meanwhile, later yesterday afternoon I was in line at the grocery store overhearing a conversation about the Missouri primary. One patron said she was planning on voting but had decided not to after getting calls from candidates. "That'll show them for bothering me at home. And shouldn't it be illegal for them to call?" I was aghast. Asked if I agreed, I gave another impromptu "person-on-the-street" interview.

"Actually," I said, "I think voting should be required, a condition of citizenship. To promote democratic participation Voting Days should be national holidays and businesses, schools, and government offices closed for the day."