The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

21 October 2006

See you at the polls

Around Spokane, and some other locations in Washington state, they've gone to balloting by mail, and, says Terry, it's just not the same:

I received my ballot in the mail and filled it out sitting at the table. My power of anonymity is gone as I sign the envelope to mail it in. The post office could discard my plainly marked envelope. Should an unethical official wish, they could know how I voted. They could choose not to count my vote at all and Id have no way of knowing.

As I put a stamp on the envelope and put it in the mailbox, I felt a little melancholy. This doesn't seem like progress to me. I used to feel important in the election process; now I'm just another little cog in a machine that would easily roll on without me. Sadder still is the idea that my 2 youngest children will never know the feeling of power I did in casting [my] first vote. They won't get that tangible statement of signing it at the table and feeding their ballot into the machine themselves. Voting now may have no more significance that filling out a product survey.

This may be cheaper and more efficient but we've given up a lot for those small gains. Voting is now an impersonal enterprise rather than the community experience it once was. I dont think the "progress" was worth it.

If turnout happens to go up, they'll claim that it was so worth it.

And there's one further objection to the concept, noted by Stefan Sharkansky:

If a voter mismarks her ballot at a polling place, the tabulator can give the voter instant feedback that there was an error and the voter can correct it. With vote-by-mail, the voter receives no feedback and no opportunity to correct any mistakes.

Yeah, I could vote absentee and save myself a trip to church. (Yes, children, my polling place is in a House of Worship. The ACLU presumably knows about it.) But geez, it's not like the country is asking me to do a whole heck of a lot else — other than fork over several thousand bucks in taxes every year, of course.

Posted at 9:12 AM to Political Science Fiction


I received my ballot in the mail and filled it out sitting at the table. My power of anonymity is gone as I sign the envelope to mail it in. The post office could discard my plainly marked envelope. Should an unethical official wish, they could know how I voted. They could choose not to count my vote at all and Id have no way of knowing.

That's one reason why I've always gone back to plain old Election-Day-at-my-assigned-polling-place voting.

As for where your assigned polling place is, Charles, the precinct where I walked GOTV in 1984 had a church as a polling place.

In California.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:25 AM on 21 October 2006

The church where I vote is right across the street. Why would I mail in my ballot?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 9:09 PM on 21 October 2006