A High Tech Voting Experience

As I type this, it is 6:40 in the morning, and I am quite proud of the people in my neighborhood and surrounding district. We got up and spoke at the polls.

The wait at the polls was made a lot shorter thanks to my iPhone and Twitterific. Wow! It wasn’t me going to the polls but me going to the polls…with a bunch of friends…from all around the world. I started sending photos to TwitPic, giving a play-by-play of the line status, where I was, and finally, when I was done. It is amazing how our personal tech (Social Media, iPhone, etc.) has changed the way we live. And this is why I am also filing this under Geek Chic. Even with my unkempt hair, my morning breath, and sleep funk, I was the sexiest voter there because I was tweeting from the iPhone.

Dead. Sexy. Geek.

Voting in Virginia is a terrific, orderly, and simple process. It is also quite geeky. First you show up with your license and registration. What’s handy is when you get your driver’s license or renew it, you are automatically registered to vote. Very nice. After you identify yourself by full name and address and you are double-checked by your photo ID (the afore mentioned driver’s license), you are handed one of these…

Feels kind of “Ye Olde School” but here’s where we go geek. After you pass the second checkpoint, you hand in your permit for an activation card (which looks like a tiny credit card) and then you wait for a hooded monitor to open up. When one is made available, you are ushered to one…


…and then you follow the instructions on the touch-screen. You are given a chance to review at the end, and then you vote. After a visual confirmation…

…you’re done. You hand the volunteer the card, get your sticker, and you go home. No dimples. No pull levers. All digital. High Tech Democracy. It can happen! (At least, in Virginia. I don’t know about elsewhere…)

What I was particularly impressed by was how many people on Twitter — especially those who were voting today — wanted to know where my votes were going. I was flattered and a little perplexed. Why would anyone really care how I vote? This is, after all, my choice. My voice. My opinion on who should be the representatives of America on the global stage. Would it change your opinion of me as a person or as a writer? Does it make me less skilled in my Podcasting (and now Blogging) Fu if I go against your political opinions? Will you deny me Halloween candy?

Sorry, that was yesterday’s post. I’m still a bit torqued over that one…

The polls are now closed in Virginia. If you want to know how I voted, here it is…

You may have issues with my choice and you know what — that’s cool! If you want to tell me here just how wrong I was in my choice, though, I will guarantee you those comments will not make it here. Why?

  • I waited until the polls were closed before telling anyone how I voted.
  • The choice is mine. I looked at both parties objectively, watched how they ran campaigns, weighed decisions they made on the road to the White House, and then I chose. This is what being an American is all about. Don’t tell me how to vote. Let me size up the options and I made the call.
  • How I voted in the election isn’t the point of this post.

The point of this post is that I got up and I voted. Did you? And if you did, did you speak your voice, or the voice of others? Regardless of the outcome tonight, if you voted, then you did what was right. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, it’s your voice, your vote. If you are in a different time zone and haven’t voted, you still have time. If you want to contribute to my vote or try and cancel it out, you can…but to do that, you will have to vote.

Otherwise, if it’s just not worth your time and effort, I refer you to this wise Patron Saint of Talking Heads


  1. Dang it, I’m jealous. I went to vote today and instead of some new-fangled machine I was given a #2 pencil and a sheet that reminded me of those multiple choice tests back in school (and considering my voting location was a school . . . )

    As far as showing who you voted for, Yeah, okay, maybe my vote counter-acts yours, but I think that one of the great things about this country is that we are allowed to have our own opinions and actually have a voting process in place. The important thing, as you pointed out is to act on it.


  2. I miss the days of the McGillicuddy Serious Party in NZ. They ran on platform of banning electricity, outlawing money, and ship all modern technology overseas to pay off debts (manifesto http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/bernard.smith/manifesto/contents.htm) But I never actually voted for them (sorry guys) but they were fun. I don’t think you can ‘cancel’ another’s vote- to do so just on that basis beggers the point of democracy. It’s all about what *you* want, not trying to stymie the other guy. Good luck America, we’ll be watching with interest!


  3. We have those machines too, but I’ve done paper ballots for the last couple elections. There are too many concerns about audit trails and software issues. There was *one* electronic machine at my polling place and 7 carols for use with paper ballots. We got to choose which to use and I think during the whole time I was there only two people used the electronic machine.

    (Mind you, our paper ballots are fed into a machine that seems to scan them immediately — but there’s a paper trail!)


  4. In Australia it is mandatory to vote. The main parties are Labour (ALP) and the Coalition which is made up of the Liberal (NLP) and National Party, whose only hope of gaining power is that alliance. In Federal politics the Liberals are in charge, but in the states like Queensland the Nationals are given the leadership role. More recently the Queensland coalition merged to create a super-party called the National Liberals, a name that I still laugh at because of the hype about the group itself.
    Most places ask your name and that’s it as far as ID is concerned. They cross off your name and send you on the way with your ballot paper/s and a pencil that is about to break. There is a bunch of different people outside of the polling centers, but you can always telling the Green Party or the Legalize Marijuana Party by the unkempt hair and thongs, though the Greens are usually neat. If you look close enough you’ll notice the box of granola bars in their backpack.


  5. In Australia, once you have turned 18 yrs old, you register your name with Australian Electrol Commission and your name is then placed on the Electrol Roll. The only time you have to make changes is when you move address, because you may end up in a different electorate. If you move interstate, well of course you’ve moved into a different electorate! LOL! As D L Owens mentioned with have two major Parties, Liberal Party of Australia and Australian Labor Party. Yes, It’s spelt L-A-B-O-R, because when it was formed they want to be seen as different from the Labour Party in the UK. The National Party is the “Farmer’s Party” of sorts, although they’re a lot more than that these days. The Liberals and The Nationals traditional form a Coalition. Although historical the Nationals were formed from The Liberals. Anyhow….. You HAVE to vote. It is mandatory. You go the polling station, get your name signed off on the electoral roll and you’re given two ballot papers. One for the House of Representitives and one for the Senate. we vote with pencil and paper here.


  6. There are some folks that leave the papers blank, as a sort of rebellion against mandatory voting, or simply because they disliked or didn’t know the politicians that were on the ballot papers. I’ve left the paper blank once because I was in a different area and had no clue who the mayoral choices were. There was simply no information online about those individuals so it seemed silly to check or number a group of unknowns.


  7. They let you take electronic devices into the polls? In Maryland, we have to turn off all electronics when we get into the polling place. Aren’t they concerned about how easily you can hack the voting machine with your phone? 😉



  8. As a new resident of Palm Beach County, Florida – the county that probably still has a reputation as the place with the most and worst vote-counting problems in the entire country – I am very pleased to say that we have cleaned up our act a bit since we got that reputation. This morning, I voted using a paper ballot and a felt-tip pen. There is a record of my vote that cannot be hacked or accidentally deleted, and I’m very happy about that.


  9. In Massachusetts we don’t have fancy touch-screens, we vote with a felt pen and electronic scanners – just like our founding fathers did.


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