ethel’s words

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A PIECE OF PAPER: Voting and Lowdown Tech

I hate those goddam voting machines. (Can you tell?)

Machine? No, electronic monster. Shall I stop trying to vote? Become a compliant slave?

Yes, I read the reports from the self-appointed so-called experts after the most recent previous election. Everybody, one reported, “almost”, was happy with the machines. Oh, yes, there were a few who were not able to have their vote. A few! How dare he! One person denied the right to vote is too many. And damned too many if that one is I.

Hey, I daily felt pain (but I am not big enough to feel THEIR pain) when I read of (then) Negro persons being shot for trying to vote; being beaten; being kidnapped and threatened; losing jobs--but still trying to vote--and here is some swank-assed academician expert on voting glibly commenting “Oh, some votes didn’t get counted”. I was furious. (Can you tell?)

My first experience (previous election) that made me want to attack the machine (I am a totally non-violent vegetarian person except for certain spiders and all mosquitos--in self-defense--allowable) was that when “it” came to the item most important to me, the machine took charge and whisked the text away away, without any pause to allow me to vote. I was furious. (I wonder how my heart endures.)

Yesterday, November 6, 2007, I chose the offer of large print/high contrast--as no clue was given how small “regular” would be (I had forgotten glasses), nor any perils with the “large”. To clarify, the hope-to-be-voter is not given a menu of typeface from which to choose--only a verbal description.

When I arrived at Proposition 1, Bonding for Police and Fire facilities, etc., which I totally supported, there was no place on the screen to vote! I was furious. (Yes, I know some other words to express anger.) In fact, I was damned furious. I asked for help and my helper seemed apprehensive--my anger must have been so volatile that it radiated out and around me. My helper turned the machine back. “No, no! I want to vote on Proposition one!” The problem turned out to be that the large typeface--that I did not need--was so large it put the “voting square” on the following page--so I would have to touch a square on a page that was not integrated with any text. I was furious. (And those other words, too, deleted.)

That would be like signing a petition that has its text only on page one, with the following pages having only signatures--joined to the proposal by only a staple. I once was offered one such, whose proposal I approved and others had been signing. But I do not sign anything with no text. Not this kid.

Yes, I finally calmed down enough that I got my vote--

So where is all that genius? All those technology whiz kids? Yeah, they make the magical machine move from “page” to “page” but the composers of the program don’t have the sensitivities and the ethics to accompany their whiz-kid talents.

Some years back my credit union, fully computerized, started to save on paper. Their only paper was a cash-register receipt size record, and for some transactions, they expected me to trust their computer system. “I want a piece of paper”, I insisted. I changed credit unions.

Hold on, before you laugh at this 85-year-old dummy: Never in all my years have I seen such a spate of rip-offs of funds, public and private, by persons authorized to handle the monies. I can hardly imagine--rip-offs of millions of dollars--not noticed for years. If I am wrong, okay, but I think computers must facilitate such crimes.

Whether it’s my money or my much more precious right to vote, I still want a piece of paper. I will re-cycle it when I put my affairs in order.

Ethel C. Hale