A Floridian Votes

I voted today. The polling place was empty. They seemed very glad to see me. Indeed the man whose job it was to explain how the touch screen voting worked wouldn't stop explaining complex concepts like, “you touch the screen to make your choice”. The machines are lined up in a row with the open side facing the room and thus feel very exposed compared to the old punch card system that had curtains you pulled while you make your choices. I assume the idea is that the screen angle makes it hard to see what you are doing from a distance, but I had the perhaps unjustified feeling that the hovering and underemployed poll worker, or anyone else who happened to be around, could be looking over my shoulder easily if he wanted to.

Our precinct votes in a common room graciously lent for this purpose by an ideally located Catholic church. To get to the common room you have to walk through a little courtyard, which is entered via an archway. Every time I've voted there has been a person, whom I always took to be a volunteer election official, sitting in a chair in the archway. Usually it's a local senior citizen, and they are very cordial, and point out the way to the entrance to the common room, which being on the far side of the courtyard isn't necessarily obvious if you've never been there before. This time, however, the senior citizen in the chair was wearing a bright orange vest that said something like DEPUTIZED POLICE. He stopped me and demanded to see my ID. He then scrutinized it carefully. Perhaps if it had said bin Laden I would have had to run for it.

Voting isn't anonymous — it's obviously necessary for the polling authorities inside to check my identity against the voter roll to make sure I'm registered, voting in the right place, and only voting once. This additional check was not, therefore, a particularly egregious assault on my privacy. But it was obviously pointless, and I didn't like it.

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