Voting Technology

Gayle Kesten, Online Editor for CMP’s *VAR Business* recently wrote:

Happy post-Election Day. Just wondering how your voting experience was — and I don’t mean whether you’re happy with the winners. Did you use an electronic voting machine, or are you still stuck with clicking those little levers and that big bar like me? Any malfunctions to report? Drop me a line.

Mine was unusual so I thought I would report in. We had a family medical emergency that temporarily relocated my wife and I from our home in CO to CA just days before the election. We printed up absentee ballot forms from the Web for faxing just in time for the November 3rd deadline, but unknowingly signed the forms outside the OCR box on a signature line meant for a witness. (I don’t want to bring up bad memories of “hanging chads,” but the form legitimately could be interpreted both ways!)

I had never voted with an absentee ballot before and wasn’t completely sure how the process worked. When nothing arrived by Election Day, I called into the El Paso County office to make sure things were in process. No, it turned out — rejection letters had been mailed out (still not received weeks later!) because the forms appeared to the computer to be unsigned. Fortunately, county official Amanda Beek became our advocate, arguing for us that the rejection was a computer error as the forms were, in fact, signed. She went all the way up to the Colorado Secretary of State, and got approval from her to fax
Emergency Ballots to us.

Since we were out of town, our virtual PBX emails our faxes to us–common in the business world, but apparently a regulatory quagmire as ballots can, under rare circumstances, be faxed, but apparently must never, ever be emailed. Fortunately, the
State of Colorado reasoned that as long as the ballots were faxed on its end, it was up to us how we chose to receive the transmittal–saving a harried drive to Kinkos as it was now late in the day, and our faxed ballot must be received by 7PM MT.

We underestimated the time it took to read through several pages (!) of ballot initiatives and were, of course, plagued with form-feed errors, but after multiple attempts, finally got a successful transmittal through at…6:59 PM MT! Carefully trying to work the paper feed with the clock running down was not exactly Jack Bauer diffusing a bomb on *24* but as close as I want to get. I scanned the news for elections that won by two last-minute ballots, but didn’t find any results that turned out to match the drama we had trying to make our votes count.


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