Thursday, February 7, 2008

Troubles with bubbles

One lesson that I have learned from this campaign so far is that democracy is very much a work in progress. Maybe I should say that I relearned it all over again. We all learned in 2000, from the debacle in Florida, that actually casting a vote can be a complicated process, potentially fraught with error. We have now seen this in California. The LA Times reports today that there were substantial problems with independent voters casting votes in the Democratic primary. This was true across California, but particularly true in LA County, where "non-partisan," i.e. "independent" voters, had to mark a special bubble to indicate that they were voting in the Democratic primary. This was confusing, and NOT at all clear. Nor was it explained by poll workers.
Even people who were involved in campaigns didn't know what was going on. I got a phone call from a precinct captain who had been completely on top of everything for weeks, but who didn't realize that she had to mark this bubble. That meant that her vote didn't count. According to the article in the Times, the LA County Registrar is going to look into this issue and see if those uncounted votes would make a difference. If so, he's going to try to solve the problem. That's a good sign.
Still, it would have been nice not to have the problem at all. Just make ballots that are perfectly clear! Or post big signs at the voting booths explaining exactly how to cast a ballot. How hard would that be? I agree with this column in the Times today: "Running elections is a tough business, but it is not rocket science."


Gwennegaia said...

So, who designed the ballot? Were they republicans.......I don't trust people who are trying to protect their status quo - they can easily rationalize just about anything!

And, who will check/follow through on this being corrected.......? What about the electronic voting machines none of us were going to use - I understand many were decertified, but how many are still being used? Issues lose their prominence in the news, and they are not dealt with all too often..........

JohnTEQP said...

I seriously doubt that the ballots were designed by Republicans, since there aren't very many of those in LA County. I think it was just confusion on the part of the LA County Registrar. I don't think this had really been an issue before. Now that it is, people will be following it. You don't forget it when your vote doesn't count.