Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Open Primary - Bring Back The Curtain

Virginia is an open primary state. As a registered voter, you may participate in either party's primary. No one checks to see if your name is on an official party list before you receive a ballot. You can vote in the Democrat primary one year and the Republican one the next. Open primaries seem to promote participation and make it easy to go vote.

Yesterday, however, I was very disappointed with the way the open primary was administered at my precinct. When I arrived around 10 AM, I pushed Daniel's stroller up to the table where the ladies asked for an ID and checked my name off on a master list of registered voters. After verifying my address, she asked, "Republican or Democrat?" Well, now, I hadn't planned on having to announce that. I figured with our new touch screen voter machines, I'd be able to make that distinction IN the voter booth.

I quietly mumbled my answer and she handed me a colored piece of paper that corresponded to the party. I then had to carry that colored piece of paper across the room and hand it to another poll worker. She inserted a white card into my touch screen to bring up the candidates for the primary I had indicated with my colored paper. I touched the screen, cast my vote, and picked up my "I voted" sticker.

Not so very long ago, you stepped behind a curtain to vote. No one knew how you voted. Now we have to announce Republican or Democrat to the whole room. I don't think that's fair. Touch screens are computers and you should be able to choose Republican or Democrat right on the screen. Perhaps that technology is not yet available. If not, then the board of elections should bring back the curtains. Voters could step behind the curtain to make the party selection allowing only one poll worker to see that choice. I would much prefer this over telling the gym full of people.

Regardless of how it was done yesterday in my precinct, I hope we don't ever sink to the level of this Ohio situation. Those voters can be publicly tied to their vote. If that is not illegal, it should be.


Anonymous said...

I will be given a form to hand punch my selections, behind a curtain. Then I will take the form to a computerized feeder where it takes my form and records my vote. Then I get my sticker. :) No one in the room will see my votes nor know my party affiliation.
How fair is it when we are not asked to do the same thing at each voting precint?

KarenW said...

I had to go to either the Republican or Democrat "line". There was only one other person there (and they were voting for the other party) so I can't really call it a line. But still . . . with all of our technology, why can't both parties be on the touch screen?