Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Paper or ...

Plastic! No, electronic.

I voted early today because we can do that here. I figured it was better to vote early than wait in a long line on Super Tuesday.

Election law in Hawaii allows for all sorts of ballot types. Voting early is a form of the absentee ballot and this year the state is encouraging people to vote as early as possible because they know that polls won't be able to handle the anticipated demand.

I went to Honolulu Hale after lunch preparing to see if it was a long wait or not. If it was a ton of people, I was just going to bail and head back to work. There were no people in line, so I stayed. After filling out a form and presenting your ID to a poll official, you are asked if you want to vote using a traditional paper ballot or if you'd like to use the exciting electronic voting system. I asked if it was made by DieboldPremier and they said no, so I decided to go with the electronic system.

The maker of these systems claims to be Hart. It's not a touchscreen system. It's an LCD display and then a series of buttons along the bottom. The buttons:
  • PREV
  • NEXT
There is also a big knob on the right labeled SELECT. I think they used engineers from BMW and Yaesu to design this thing because every operation requires turning the knob and pushing a button.

To start the voting process, you enter the four digit access code you were given at the front of the line. The system then explains how the process works. Use the SELECT wheel to highlight your choice and then press ENTER (turn the knob, press a button). At the end of the ballot, you will see a ballot summary page. If you like what you see, turn the SELECT knob to highlight Accept and then press ENTER. If you don't like what you see, you can go back (using PREV/NEXT) to change any selections.

The last step is the literal paper trail. After you Accept the ballot summary on the screen, the system prints out on thermal receipt paper a copy of your ballot summary. The printout is behind another screen and it scrolls by and stops so you can read it. Once you like what you see on the paper, press CAST BALLOT and the paper trails off and the big LCD says you voted.

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