So, when anyone voted today, or in the past weeks, did you use either
the Sequoia or Diebold electronic voting machines?
I voted in D.C. this morning, where each polling place has at least (or
maybe exactly) one Sequoia AVC Edge voting machine ( http://www.sequoiavote.com/productguide.php?
product=AVC%20Edge&type=Introduction ) and found the user experience
left a lot to be desired; it wasn't even equal to the farecard machines
at the D.C. metro.
Most disconcerting seemed to be an outright bug, or a poorly designed
feature: several times, when attempting to select a candidate on the
ballot by pressing the bullet next to his or her name, I was then
presented, for no apparent reason, with a write-in candidate keyboard
input screen (the write in option was at the bottom of the onscreen
ballot, in most cases nowhere near my choice), with the only way to
return to the choices a small "cancel" button at the bottom of the
screen, far below the touchscreen keyboard. I can only imagine the
havoc it is wreaking for people less familiar with submit/cancel
buttons, or who then tried to write in the name of the candidate they
just tried to select.
At best, it slows down the process, as it did for me, when it happened
four times in my case. At worst, it's misrecording votes. Even in
D.C., where the results of the Presidential and Congressional Delegate
tickets are all but foregone conclusions, there are still important
races, like Council-at-Large and the School Board, which could be
skewed by poor voting interfaces.
I've seen the recent articles about Sequoia's code being leaked (Wired
News, Oct 29: http://www.wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,61014,00.html )
and issues with Diebold machines, but was wondering if any critiques
have been posted of the UX itself, or if anyone else can share their
Two other things that were disconcerting: a printout is produced after
you vote, spooling out of a unit below the screen, but nothing human
readable that you can review to confirm (for prvacy reasons), and no
receipt for the voter to keep to prove how they voted. Just a
confirmation onscreen - then you must simply trust the vote was
recorded. Additionally, the magnetic strip card that one is given to
vote with, when handed off at the ballot box, was just left in a stack
on a chair. Now, likely, there's no damage done if those cards are
lost, or attempted to be reused, and this was explained to me when I
asked about it; but for a voter, it's unnerving to see the card you
just used for your private vote left lying around, when everyone else's
paper ballots are being fed into a secured reader.