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Democracy in Trouble- A letter to NPR

Democracy in Trouble- A letter to NPR
Current mood: horrified

Dear All Things Considered,

I was doing dishes as I listened to the story on electronic voting machines and how difficult the technology is and just caught the last piece about how having a printer print the vote is too complicated of a technology to implement because “the voter wont know if and/or what to do if the printer jams and neither would the poll worker” (paraphrased).

This is potentially the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard anyone utter that has at least an elementary school education.

Printer technology is pretty advanced. I am quite sure that I have seen a checker at a grocery store deal with a printer jam quite effectively as I have seen second graders do the same in their classroom. Error messages pop up. A buzzer can go off. You can be told that your vote will be confirmed on a piece of paper after you are done voting, and you don’t get the print out; to go tell the poll worker who will then come with the one page directions on how to clear a printer jam and do so for you. If the poll worker is not able to fix the problem, maybe they could call someone and get help. On an error message, the computer can be told to not finish processing the vote until the printer prints a receipt successfully which can be validated by the voter pressing a button “did you get your vote printed correctly.” I am pretty sure I’ve seen a similar technology atm of my bank that asks me basically the same thing.

If, for some reason- the voter or the poll worker, cannot manage things that we already take for granted and have used in our day-to-day lives for the past 30 years; perhaps they should not be allowed to vote or be a poll worker respectively. Or at least be given assistance to allow them to vote. In fact; I will volunteer my services to support printer jams during the next general elections. I am sure my three daughters would as well. I will set-up a toll-free phone number so that the taxpayers of the particular county where the troubled printer exists doesn’t incur any additional cost. I would gladly do this for my country.

I can only imagine the strangled cries of fear and confusion the woman that uttered this feels when her washing machine load goes off balance and the machine starts buzzing or when the popcorn in her microwave is done and it beeps.

Thankfully the majority of us live in the year 2006 and have the cognitive skills to deal with a crisis such as a printer jam.

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