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Electronic Voting Machines

Updated on September 15, 2012

Voting machines of the future may use 'swipe cards' to count your votes, you may even be able to vote by swiping your driver's license through a slot.

In the past, voting machines have earned a reputation for being unreliable. If people think that a voting machine is unreliable or difficult to use, it may discourage them from voting. What we need is a voting machine that is reliable and easy to use. In the future we may have voting machines that allow us to vote by sliding a plastic card through a slot. The card may be a special voter ID card, or it may even be your driver's license.

The illustration above shows a plastic card, it is known as a 'swipe card'. These cards have been used for several years for bank transactions and for identification. Each swipe card has a dark brown stripe on the back. That stripe contains millions of tiny iron oxide particles. These particles can be magnetically encoded, which means that information can be stored in the card. For example, in a debit card or credit card, the magnetically encoded stripe has your bank account number recorded in it. When you swipe this card through the slot on an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) the ATM's computer reads your account number from the card, and then activates a connection to your bank account, so you can make a withdrawal. Many state governments issue driver's licenses that have a magnetically encoded stripe on the back. In the future, you may be able to vote by swiping your driver's license through a slot in a voting machine. This innovation may strengthen democracy by making it easier for people to vote in elections.

The illustration above shows a voting machine, with two card slots in it. There is a card slot on the left, and a card slot on the right. There is a video screen in the center of the voting machine, and there is a row of push-button controls at the front of the machine. To vote, you must choose the left slot or the right slot. The left slot would be designated for Democrats. The right slot would designated for Republicans. If you wanted to vote for a Democrat, slide your card through the left slot, but if you want to vote for a Republican, slide your card through the right slot.

Let's imagine a voting scenario, so we can envision how the voting machine will actually work, during an election. The video screen on the voting machine will show messages to you. First of all, it may show a message that says, "Cast your vote for President. Swipe card in the left slot to vote for Barack Hussein Obama, swipe card in the right slot to vote for Mitt Romney". So, you slide your driver's license through the left slot, and the machine records your vote for the Democrat, Obama. Then the video screen on the voting machine displays a message that says, "Cast your vote for Vice-President. Swipe your card in the left slot to vote for Joesph Biden, swipe your card in the right slot to vote for Paul Ryan". To make it easier to use, voting for any of the Democratic-party candidates would require you to swipe your card in the left slot, and voting for any of the Republican-party candidates would require you to swipe your card in the right slot. If you wanted to vote 'straight-ticket', you would just swipe your card on the same side for every candidate, from President and Vice-President all the way down to Senators, Governors, Mayors, and so on.

Although the Democrats and Republicans are the two most popular political parties in the U.S.A., they are not the only parties. Sometimes, a 'third party' places a candidate in an election. Some examples of third parties are the Libertarian Party, and the C.P.U.S.A. (Communist Party Of The U.S.A.). The voting machine has a row of push-button controls on it. To vote for a third-party candidate, push the 'third-party' button, and the video screen will display instructions for casting a third-party vote. For example, the screen may say: "To vote for C.P.U.S.A. candidate Anthony P. Ratkov, swipe your card on the left side, to vote for Libertarian Party candidate Edward Shyster, swipe your card on the right side".

To vote on a ballot proposal, the video screen would display instructions for each proposal, for example, suppose there was a proposal on the ballot that was called 'Proposition Thirteen'. The screen would display a message that says: "To vote yes on Proposition Thirteen, swipe your card on the left side, to vote no on Proposition Thirteen, swipe your card on the right side". Voting machines that allow you to vote with swipe cards will make it easier to vote and will encourage more people to vote in the future.

Anthony Ratkov, September 15,2012.

Computer Graphic Illustrations By Anthony Ratkov.



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