My town went to a new voting system this year. Instead of the old curtained voting booths where you push the levers and then hope you have enough grip to pull the main lever to register your vote and open the curtain, the “new and improved” system uses “privacy screens” and a scanner.
Here’s how it played out in my voting place:
1. Five screens were set up about 2′ apart from each other in a row. If you walked between them to try to get to an empty screen, you would wind up right behind someone who was filling out their ballot as you walked by and could easily see their entire ballot. Or if you finished your ballot and headed for the scanner, you’d be walking right behind someone still filling theirs out and you could see whatever they’d already filled in. Another voter told me afterwards that she could see my entire ballot that I was filling out as she walked by and could see who I had voted for.
2. Two helpful volunteers stood by the scanner. Of course, that means that they could see my completed ballot, as it feeds in face up, slowly. They could also see a message flashed on the screen that should have been for my eyes only that the form was incomplete, and did I want to cast the ballot anyway or get it back. In my case, I had knowingly left a position blank, but why did the volunteers need to see this? And more importantly, nothing stopped them from simply looking down at the completed ballot as it was slowly being scanned in.
As far as I’m concerned, this is a major privacy FAIL.