RE: Here's why formatting and layout can really matter:

Subject: RE: Here's why formatting and layout can really matter:
From: "Nancy Osterhout" <bluetwilight -at- home -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 13:47:35 -0800

Lydia Wong wrote:
<snip>
"In addition, note that some of the changes in this recount
are due to the fact that some ballots did not have their
holes punched as cleanly as others. According to officials,
the recount differences can in part be attributed to a
careful review of ballots that were initially read by
machines as not punched, but when checked by a human being,
were determined to have only a partially punched
hole."</snip>

All the ballots cast in Oregon HAD to be by mail, received
by 8 PM local time on Election Day (or dropped off on
Election Day in a box already set up in selected public
buildings for the purpose). So *nobody's* ballot was
punched with a puncher tool that you're given inside a
voting booth.

Every registered voter received their *actual* ballot a
couple of weeks before Election Day. I didn't see any
photographs of an Oregon ballot in the newspaper. I think
it was about half of the voters who completed and mailed
their ballot right back within a couple of days of receipt.
Postmarked date does not matter for this election in Oregon
(even if you vote absentee, I believe). So I'm wondering
why Oregon has not completed their own count.

I'm a traditionalist (plus I didn't want to miss any
important information before the actional Election Day), so
I filled out my ballot at home that day and drove it over to
drop it off at the box at our local library. As I punched
my choices out on the ballot with a toothpick, I muttered
under my breath in frustration at having to pull the little
snips of paper away from each hole, worried that I would
tear a larger hole in my ballot without any immediate
recourse to get a new ballot form.

<snip>
Point 2: As Arlen just pointed out, build in error checking.
Those machines at the polling places should have rejected
ballots that were not cleanly punched and that were punched
twice, and therefore invalid.</snip>

And yes, I did wind up poking a hole where I did not intend
for one of the 31 state-wide and country-wide ballot
initiatives ("measures") about which I felt strongly, so I
immediately punched the other choice to cancel it out. So I
know that I wound up doing the same thing as so many folks
in the other corner of this country did, for no reason other
than I *thought* I had marked what I *intended* to mark.
Now I wonder whether my entire ballot was made invalid. No
machine to check out errors was at the library where I
dropped my ballot in the official box on the floor.

<snip>
Point 3: Have well-trained support staff.
Reports have come in that poll staff either could not help
confused voters
who asked for assistance or even refused to give voters new
ballots when the
voters had made a mistake on their initial ballot. The
workers were not
trained, so voters were left with no recourse (great way to
get users to
abandon your product!).</snip>

There were no blank ballots available at the place inside
the library where the elections volunteer was at break. The
boxes were on the floor so I just dropped in my ballot and
hoped for the best.

One thing's for sure... nobody can say again that our votes
don't count. Even the 19-year-old at the local junior
college who was quoted in the newspaper that his father
always told him to be sure to vote because as
African-Americans, they didn't always have the right to vote
but that he, himself "was just too busy with school to think
about registering or voting. I'll just vote next year."
("year!?")

Yup, all of us at each stage of the process have
responsibilities to do it right. We also have the right to
exercise this responsibility.

As my former (is there ever such a thing as a "former"?)
Marine husband wisely reminds everyone in his <obligatory
sig tag>, which I'm borrowing with his blessing:
________________________________________________
"Where Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue"
Semper Fi
________________________________________________


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