Did you ever have trouble with those punch voting machines?

I did. Punched the both holes, just like they showed on TV.

Happened the first time I used one, and then after I’d skipped voting for a few times and came back, I did it again.

I had the presence of mind to notice before I turned in the card, and had it exchanged as a “spoiled ballot”

But now I wonder if I ever got mixed up on the other occasions and just didn’t know it .

To the best of my knowledge I have never never messed up a punch ballot (the only kind I have ever voted with).

What I don’t understand, though, is the claim that people down there “left the polling place crying.” (NPR has been playing the quote every 30 seconds or so) If they knew leaving that they had messed up, why didn’t they just ask for a new ballot?

We used these in the Seattle area in years past. Now we’re using fill-in-the-circles ballots.

Did I have trouble with punch ballots? Yep. Did I punch wrong? Nope, though a slight misalignment of the card resulted in not being able to punch through the card at all. It took reseating the ballot to make punching possible, and simply reseating the ballot somehow made me uncomfortable.

I also didn’t like not being able to easily correct a mis-selection. With the punch ballots, you’ve gotta ask for another ballot. With the fill-in-the-circle ballots, just X out the wrong choice. And with the fill-in ballots, I could review my choices and make sure I voted for everyone I wanted to.

The butterfly format did require a little extra concentration (not to mention good lighting). I could see how the format could confuse some elderly folks. Why didn’t they ask for another ballot? Embarrassment, maybe. Maybe it’s not wanting to rock the boat.

I remember the first time I saw a butterfly ballot, and how confusing it was. I really had to concentrate to make sure I voted properly. I remember thinking at the time, “man, this is going to cause some problems.” But everyone else was apparently used to it. I think that’s the key, how familiar you are with it. If that was the first time the butterfly ballot was used (or if it’s a format that is only rarely used), then I can completely understand how people got confused. I also had difficulting lining up the holes exactly right.

As for getting a replacement ballot, people may not have even known that they could ask for one, and poll workers may not have known that they could give them out. One voter has said that she messed up her ballot, but the poll worker told her that she’d have to wait in line to vote again. That after having been in line an hour already.

We used punch-style ballots until this year, when we switched to Scantron sheets where you fill in the oval with a marker they give you. I never had a problem with them, though we never had a butterfly, or two-page, ballot. I could see messing that up, even without being a senior citizen trying to read tiny print and find a tiny hole in dim light. You read from left to right; you might read the left side of the ballot without even noticing whether there is anything printed on the right side.

Think how awful that woman who designed the butterfly ballot must feel. “I was just trying to help!! I was trying to make it more legible!!”

So why aren’t all the names, including the obscure candidates, listed in strict alphabetical order anyway? Browne; Buchanan; Bush; Gore; McReynolds; Nader.

Personally, I’m appalled that it’s even POSSIBLE to double-punch or otherwise invalidate your vote. I’m from NYC, where we have ancient voting machines (they have to be 30-40 years old) where you flip switches to choose candidates. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to flip more than one (or two or three, in the case of some judges, etc.) for each race (pres., senator, judges, etc.). Flipping a new switch turns the old one “off”.

No offense, but this is hardly high-tech, expensive stuff. Blaise Pascal could have built these, and they’re effectively foolproof.

I believe I remember hearing that in Florida the presidential candidates are placed in the order of their finish in the primary.

In California they appear in random (determined by a lottery) order. The party order this year was…(checking sample ballot): Natural Law; Libertarian; Republican; Reform; American Independent; Democratic; Green.

Here’s my post in GQ concerning this–I have not responded to any threads pertaining to the Palm Beach/butterfly ballots. But here is my story:

I live in Akron, OH. We have used the butterfly ballots for 10-15 years now. I am 56 years old, an old style liberal who voted for Gore(I hope I did, but not sure now). I am college educated, knew EXACTLY what I was voting for concerning each candidate and issue. We had a lot of issues on our ballot.

I had no trouble punching the holes for all candidates. Never have had a problem in elections gone by.

But when I turned the page to vote for the first “local issue” on my ballot, I read it rather quickly(since I knew how I wanted to vote, and punched the wrong hole. And I realized it, paused, cursed my stupidity, knew that that particular issue stood no chance of passing, and went on to the next issue, but taking my own sweet time trying to figure out which hole was which on a ballot that criss-crossed from left to right, with holes in seeming illogical places.

Remember, I’m above average when it comes to figuring this out. And I f***** up. Had I mis-voted for the President, I would have gone for a new ballot. But, if I were 75, like my parents, I may not have been able to catch it.

Gore will gracefully bow out when the vote is certified next week. But, the system is in need a a bad fix. Punchcard ballots are not very good. We only realized it now because of the close election. They have been discarded in other states, I think, because of just such problems.