But seriously, folks, I just voted, and what I saw, heard and experienced scared the bejeezus out of me. I’m talking about the electronic, touchscreen voting booth which I just used to decide the fate of the planet. So many aspects of the design sucked, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are the problems I had:
1) I was issued a magnetic card “key” to allow me to use the voting machine. It fit into a slot on the front of the voting machine. I expected the machine to grab the card upon insertion and pull it in, much like an ATM machine would (as a society, we’ve been trained to have cards sucked in). But it didn’t. My card just sat there, limp and inert. Finally, my inner mechanical engineer spoke up and I rammed the card home. Bling bling! The touch screen awoke and I could now do my civic duty.
2) Each screen had two or more votable items displayed at a time, which a big yellow “next screen” arrow in the lower right. Thing is, I was able to press the yellow arrow and skip a votable item without the system giving me any feedback that I had skipped an item. Folks, the self-serve kiosks at United Airlines work better than this. Lucky for me I’m a software industry veteran and was able to go back a page. But what if I was an “analog”, part of the population who has never used a computer, let alone a web browser-style interface? What if, for example, I was an 80+ year-old woman wearing those big wraparound sunglasses and trying to vote with this damned thing?
And there she was: next to me an elderly woman sat there trying to stick her card in for about 45 seconds. She muttered and cursed and finally called an attendant for help.
Then there was the elderly gentleman on the other side of me. He stood there motionless the entire time I was voting, and then asked the attendant for help. Seems he couldn’t find his candidate on the touchscreen (video monitors are hard to read — we read better on paper). It took a while for the local “IT department” to sort of his problem. The answer? The poor guy was trying to vote for “Laura Magenta”, one of the sample candidates from the paper instructions he had in his hand. It wasn’t his fault. Just a stupid, poorly-conceived and implemented voting process.
God help this country of mine. Or better yet, get Steve Jobs and crew to design a simple, effective voting process for us.