2004-11-02

I Voted, Colorado


Voting is different here in Colorado than it was back on the East Coast. In New Jersey, and I remember it was the same basic things when my parents voted in New York, the voting was in a mechanical voting booth. You would go to a desk and sign the big book. The would give you a sheet of paper. You would take the paper over to a voting machine. An assistant would take the paper and put it somewhere on the side of the machine. You would pull a big mechanical handle that would close the curtain behind you. Then you would flip the levers to indicate your vote. After, you would push the big handle, which would record your vote, reset the levers and open the curtain.

Here in Colorado, the beginning of the process is the same. You wait on line and sign the big book. I went with my wife, as she dropped her car off for service. At first she was going to vote before she dropped off her car. But she called me to tell me the line was an hour long. After I picked her up at the shop, I debated the merit of going to vote verses waiting until later. I decided it would be better to wait, and get it done in the morning. So we went back over to wait in the line. After about 10 minutes in line, they started saying there was no wait for 2 other districts. It turned out we were one of them. The big line turned out to be for an adjacent district. We wondered if that district was related to some of the higher density apartments in the area.

Before you can sign the book, you have to fill out a piece of paper with your name and birth date. Then we went up, showed our government issued picture IDs - our driver’s licenses and signed the book in turn. But there is another extra step in Colorado: you have to fill in a bubble next to your name. I guess this proves you know how to fill in a machine-readable bubble. This is important, as this is how you vote in Colorado. The book signer manager gives you a slip of paper with a number. You walk a step to the right (no jumps to the left, now) and trade the paper for what looks like some test to get in a University. It is a long page with a bunch of places you can fill in bubbles with a pen. The woman instructed me to find an empty stand, fill in both sides, and return the sheet to the box at near the entrance.

It took a moment to find a stand. The stand was a small desk with sides to help privacy a little, and a light above. It seemed like taking a test, so as I passed my wife I whispered: 'what did you get for number 3?' I went to an empty stand close to the end. On the desk there was a felt pen to fill in the bubbles. This pen was easier to fill in the bubbles than the ball point pen you use to fill in the bubble in the signature book.

The voting started with the national elections for president. The names, and the party affiliations were listed going down in the first column. The instructions for each section to vote that says 'Vote for one'. Then there were the representatives to vote for: national, then local. In one case there was only one person to vote for. As the party was not the party I usually vote for I did not vote for that person. Then there were local issues to vote for or against. I voted mixed on those. There was one to improve transportation - roads, bridges, and public transportation. While I thought it was a pretty good idea, I did not like the type and level of funding required. They were asking to raise the local sales tax another 1 percent. This would be on top of raising it more than 1 percent since I've moved to Colorado 4 years ago. If this one passes, we will be rapidly heading towards having a higher tax rate than Manhattan! I don't see raising sales taxes that high. And I object to taxes sales for transportation. It seems to me the tax should be more closely tied to the use. Such as gasoline tax. Not that I want to spend more for gasoline, but it makes more sense. Make gas cost higher, and people are a little more likely to take public transportation. They might have convinced me to go along with sales tax if it were much smaller, say maybe 1/4 percent.

Blogs I read that posted about voting:
My Single Mom Life
Crusty French Fries
Floopie
Go 2 The Start
One Girl's Life
Onediful's World
Tequila Mockingbird
Welcome to my Crazy Life
Boing Boing
Dave Barry
Slash Dot
Misanthropic Tendencies
Electric Bugaloo
The Long and Winding Road
Geek and Girl Girl voted early!

9 comments:

noelle said...

Wow, thanks for linking me!

Interesting process in Colorado... I grew up with the east coast procedure you described and until 2000 it was the only way I had voted (other than by mail/absentee ballot). This time the state of Virginia is using electronic touch-screen balloting which I found nice, clean and simple.

We also had to vote on transportation funding in my county. They are proposing to issue $165 million in bonds of which $110 million will go the metro system and $55 million to roads. Now, only 4% of our county population actually uses the metro system. (There are no stations where I live or work.) The rest of us are sitting in traffic jams every day. It's absurd. I really hope they vote this measure down.

Trinity said...

I don't get the bubble bit. Like a bubble by a picture with words in it? I don't get it. Our voting seems much more dull!

Keith said...

Fill in the bubble - it is an oval you have to color in - then a machine can read it - it is a popular method for testing in schools in America -
http://www.idsos.state.id.us/ELECT/VoterGuide/instr_optoval.htm

Keith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DC_Sara said...

We have a similar system. We have to show our ID and voter registration card. Then we have to say our name and address for the person that has the book. Once that's done we are handed a voting pass. We take that to the next table and get a ballot. The ballot has a bubble next to the name of the candidate running, you just fill it in and then feed it into the machine and get your "I voted!" sticker.

Anonymous said...

I think it is funny that all day people I talked to filled in bubbles. Voting early, I did it on a computer.

Michelle
www.girlandgeek.com

Anonymous said...

sarah from misanthropic tendencies here, thanks for linking me!

you have a REALLY long and complicated process. i showed my voter id card, signed my name, stepped into the curtained booth thing, pushed some buttons, and was done. easy!

Pattie said...

Interesting story.

In all the years I've been voting, I have NEVER had to show either my voter registration card or ID. If the name I give them is in their book, I fill out a paper like yours and proceed to the line where I get my ballot. I've moved several times so I have voted in more than one city and NO ONE has checked my ID.

Meg said...

Wow, what a complicated process! I walked in, showed my voter's registration card, was handed an orange piece of paper that said, "authorized voter", and poked at a touch screen five times. That was it. Oh, and I got my sticker, of course.