Yet Another Negative Voting Experience in South Carolina

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It’s Democratic Primary Day here, so I voted. Two polling places had been merged into one, and there were only three voting machines, so the line was long. And it was hot inside, for no good reason since it’s only in the 40s outside and opening a door would have made things more comfortable for voters. In the unlikely event someone wanted voters to be comfortable.

I presented my South Carolina driver’s license to the man doing “check in,” and after scrutinizing it thoroughly, he asked me to explain to him where my residential street was located. I don’t think he had any legal basis for doing that, but I suspected that if I didn’t go along, I would not be allowed to vote.

Posters on the wall gave incorrect instructions about how to vote. They indicated that one needed to touch an oval red “vote” button to finalize one’s vote. In fact, there were several buttons that needed to be touched, but, as I confirmed later with a poll watcher, one’s vote did not actually become final until a rectangular green “confirm” button was touched.

The entire process was ridiculously complicated. A man walked me over to a machine, inserted some sort of key, and then touched several buttons himself. He said this was to set the machine to the correct precinct. Then there was a page of instructions, which you had to touch a button to get past. Then the list of candidates came up. You touched the name of the candidate you wanted, but that wasn’t enough. There was at least two more buttons, maybe three (I don’t remember exactly) before the screen with “confirm” on it came up. The machines had an “iVotronics” trademark on them. Uh oh. And, see also.

After I finished voting, I noticed the woman at the machine next to me was walking away without having touched “confirm.” I said, “Ma’am, you need to go back and finish if you want your vote to count.” But before she could do that, the poll worker trotted over with his key, seemed to cancel out her vote by clearing the screen, and told her it was too late to do anything else, she was “done.” I reported the problems above to a poll watcher and will make a few phone calls as well. Same old, same old in South Carolina.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to Yet Another Negative Voting Experience in South Carolina

  1. Susan Kuo says:

    Ann, I’m very sorry that this happened. Encounters of the disenfranchising kind need to be reported so that they do not recur.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    That would be true if the election process was run by people of integrity and good will. My experiences suggest otherwise, unfortunately.

  3. Susan Kuo says:

    I had a run-in with one of those lack-of-integrity-and-good-will folks. She would not let a voter cast a provisional ballot, in violation of HAVA. We had an unpleasant exchange of opinions, and phone calls were made to the SC Election Commission. In the end, the Poll Clerk was forced to cave, but she didn’t go gracefully.