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In retrospect, was hanging chad so bad?

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After 232 years of the USA you’d think we’d be pretty advanced at managing elections by now. But I’ve got this sick feeling we’re getting worse at it.

Back when I was a kid, my parents voted in mini-van-sized booths with curtains, dozens of little levers and one big, red master lever. When you pulled that, you got an audible whrrrr and a click to tell you your vote had been cast; you could see all of the little levers reset, to verify that your vote would be counted for each issue or candidate.

By the time I started to vote, we were punching holes in cards and sticking them into a metal lock box. The only verification that a vote would be counted was the “I voted today” sticker you got at the door – obviously more symbolic than utilitarian.

When I voted today, I filled out little circles with a pen – like the standardized tests I took back in grade school. Then I stuck the ballot into a scanner that was attached to the top of a plastic bin that looked disturbingly like a medium-sized Rubbermaid garbage can. Given all the hanging-chad problems with the previous method, I welcomed the electronic scan – figuring it would verify that all my circles had been filled completely and my ballot was not only cast, but also complete.

It didn’t. It just gave a little “bong” and swallowed my ballot. The elections worker said, “Thank you,” and they failed to offer me a sticker.

I’m thinking by the time my children start voting, they’ll probably do it by dropping a marble in a box, or sticking their finger on an ink pad. Hope they get a sticker.

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About the Author:

Bob Rosenbaum is founder and principal of The MarketFarm, a content-oriented strategic communications firm.

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