Local voting problems

Errors on the part of poll workers prevented some voters from being able to cast ballots in the presidential primary:

At first, Mandy Mastrovita was confused when the voting machine spit out its electronic card before she had a chance to choose a presidential candidate.

That confusion quickly turned to anger when she realized she’d voted in the wrong election and couldn’t take it back.

Voters across the state – including a few in Athens-Clarke County – found the same problem at the polls Tuesday. They received cards encrypted with the wrong ballot and didn’t find out about the mistake until it was too late.

Many of them got special-election ballots that only asked their preference for the state flag, not their choice in the closely contested Democratic primary, in which Sen. John Kerry edged out Sen. John Edwards in Georgia by 33,000 votes.

Some explanation may be in order for any non-Georgians reading this. In the recent primary election, there were three different ballot options. You could select the Democratic primary, the Republican primary, or neither. In the third case, you just voted on the flag referendum.

Now as I recall, the computer does ask you to verify your vote before it accepts it and spits out your card. Based on that, you might be tempted to say “tough noogies” to these people. However, it strikes me that if folks were given a paper ballot, the mistake would have been more immediately apparent. Voters would have noted the missing primary section immediately and asked for the right ballot. However, the way the computer presented the ballot you only saw one section at a time. So what users saw was the flag option, then they were asked to confirm that vote. To them, it looked like they were confirming each option at a time, not that they were confirming the entire ballot. I’m sure they expected that they would then see the primary portion of the ballot.

Yet another reason why computers can (and often do) suck.