These new machines, who the hell knows what happened to your vote or whether it was scanned in the way you intended?
First, there’s the ballot. Filling in those little dots not only gives one a flashback to the SAT and any number of soul-crushing standardized tests, it takes more time — a lot more time — to find the dot you’re supposed to fill in and then actually fill it in. With the previous machines, which should have been the nationwide model, instead of these electronic gadgets we have now, you could just click a bunch of levers like bang-bang-bang-bang-bang and you were done. And that privacy sleeve? Oy. That thing was a total annoyance. I would rather everyone on Earth (or at least in the gym of my old elementary school) know I voted The Rent is 2 Damn High straight across rather than have to deal with that cardboard monstrosity again. I made the comment to the election official plopped in the seat next to the machine that the new process isn’t any easier for me as a voter. He replied with, “It makes our jobs easier.” Only my deep personal commitment to nonviolence kept me from kicking him over onto the gym floor. Douche.
So, I give these machines an F-plus. The “plus” comes from the fact that the ballot is preserved; I guess in some states, you just punch in your votes into a computer chip with lord knows what will happen in case there has to be a recount. Normally, I love new technology — iPads, HDTVs, whatever, bring it on and spread it thick. But this is a clear example of newer very much not equaling better. There’s no going back to the old machines, I imagine, but I will miss them.
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When I was at the Holiday Inn with the Democrats Tuesday night, I noticed that despite their local guys winning, there was a palpable sense of dismay over the party’s fate as a whole. I am told the exact opposite was true at Fred’s Place, where the Republicans had gathered. Oh, the irony, which just further underscores the fact that the blue states are getting bluer and the red states more so. I think it’s the height of naïveté to think that the GOP, which has made such hay out of telling the president basically to go get bleeped for the last two years is going to get religion and become bipartisan and I think it’s equally naïve to think that the Democrats are going to shake off the effects of the wussy ray they’ve been hit with and start making some vigorous arguments on their own behalf.
It’s a shame; as a result of the Democrats’ lassitude, no one really knows what health care reform is all about and what it will actually do to help them and few realize that the economy has actually improved quite a bit since Obama took charge of it. “We have done things that people don’t even know about,” Obama tells Jon Stewart. Well, whose fault is that? Talk about irony — perhaps the best writer-as-president we’ve had since Lincoln is tanking because of a chronic failure to communicate. Maybe it’s just writer’s block.
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There is some suspense, I suppose, in the state Senate not knowing whether it will go Republican or Democrat. While one can certainly make the argument that having a GOP Senate might be a balance against the downstate Dems, a Senate without a secure majority either way is vulnerable to the kind of foolishness the Espada-Monserrate thing brought upon us. It also, by making for a weak and insecure Senate majority leader, reduces the “three men in a room” Albany power equation to two-and-a-half men, if not just two. As scarce as democracy is in state government, it’s sad to see it reduced even further. Term limits and initiative-and-referendum, anyone?