Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Castaway


I did my civic duty this morning (no, not jury duty - the other one).

I was surprised by the lack of flyer-pushers and sign-wavers. I've seen more action at the deli counter.

And of course, it was all fucked up on the inside. Poorly marked, weirdly organized, and improperly staffed.

So I'll ask: what IS the deal with the folks that "work" at polling places? Are they paid? Because they shouldn't be. Are they volunteering. Because they shouldn't be.

I wish they ran the polls like they ran Starbucks. You walk in there with your voter registration magnetic-stripped card - you swipe it: a picture of you comes up that allows them to verify that it is indeed you voting. You wait no less than 3 minutes (and maybe grab a quick cup of coffee) - you fill out your order, you tip the poll worker, and you're out of there.

Instead - ironically - the whole experience feels slightly like pre-Gorbachev USSR: Stand in a line - get to the front of it - find out you're standing in the wrong line. Get in another line. Be handed a poorly designed and somewhat complicated ballot (with an alarming number of uncontested positions - why bother to have them on there in a primary?) Fill it out in a very strange "privacy booth": telescoping legs with privacy shields. REALLY?

People. One more time. DESIGN MATTERS. EVERYWHERE.

I wonder if the reason voters are so disenfranchised has as much to do with the voting experience as it is with the candidates? Freedom aside, voting reminds us of just what a shitty job the government does of running anything. The same way you judge a restaurant by the presentation of its menu, fullness of its parking lot, and the cleanliness of its bathrooms, don't you judge your government by the efficiency and usability of its elections?

You should.

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