In retrospect, was hanging chad so bad?

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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