“Was wondering if anyone else found this odd?”

by Prince Of Petworth — November 2, 2016 at 1:40 pm 42 Comments


“Was wondering if anyone else found this odd-

I went to the early polling location at the Height Benning Library- short line great staff.
I found it odd that none of the voting machines had privacy screens around the terminal.
I’m not shy about my choices but I could imagine others not wanting their choices shown.”

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  • KenyonDweller

    It’s all part of Crooked Hillary’s plot to steal your vote 🙂

    • Tom


  • Anonamom

    They didn’t have them at Takoma either. However, I did notice that when I stepped back and slightly to the side, you could not really read the screen, very similar to a HIPAA monitor screen. So it could be a change in technology means that the screens are no longer needed.

    • Ann

      they have them at Takoma (and probably elsewhere) – they are attached to the voting booth. I heard a worker tell someone if they wanted the privacy sides to just pull them out.

      • Anonamom

        I realize now what they are. I think perhaps OP was thinking of the machines that use to be in like a screened booth. This is what I had when I voted in the primary, and what I thought he/she was talking about.

  • anonymous

    There were no screens at Chevy Chase voting place as well. Maybe the actual touch screens had built in privacy screen (like you can buy for laptops). I didnt try to looking at the voting machines next to me to tell.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve voted paper nearly every time I’ve voted. Not because I have any fear of the electronic voting machines, but there never seem to be enough of them. Our ballots are short in DC and the precinct I go to has only a few machines. Unless there’s an empty voting machine, it’s always faster to use paper.

    • CapHill23

      The machines are available to all but they are actually intended to help those with mobility issues and/or the visually impaired to be able to vote without assistance. They come with headphones and a manual control to aid those who can’t see the screen and they come equipped with sip-n-puff technology.

  • KPS

    Every individual has a right to privacy in the voting booth. I can’t understand why a person goes home to ask about this on a blog instead of asking THE PEOPLE MANAGING THE POLLING LOCATION. I would have liked that question to have been asked at the location and then the OP adding that into his/her post. In 2012 I caught a volunteer at the Petworth location openly asking voters our party affiliation as we handed in our sealed envelopes. I asked her point-blank why she would ask such a thing. She claimed she “needed to know which box to put them into”. People were actually answering her out loud. It was an blatant violation of privacy — and common sense — and I seemed to be the only one bothered by it. I actually handed her my envelope and then stood off to the side pretending to root through my bag so I could see what she did with it. I’m not making this up: she lingered with my envelope as if waiting for me to walk away. She finally had to drop it into the bin (which I suspect was where everyone’s was supposed to go regardless of party affiliation). I don’t know what was going on there and unfortunately it’s a mystery I never got an answer to. When I called the appropriate number to report this they were polite and professional and actually put me on hold while they called over there to see what was going on. When the rep came back on the line he said the volunteer had been confused about an earlier instruction and shouldn’t have been asking that question. It still doesn’t jive with her alleged need to put them into boxes according to party affiliation. It’s just good to be vigilant, and to ask questions right there in the moment so that IF something untoward is going on it can be addressed quickly and not later when it’s too late.

    • Anonamom

      I can’t speak to how things were done in 2012, but I know that every time I have voted in DC, I have personally placed my ballot in the final machine. The poll workers never touched my ballot, and in fact when I tried to hand them my envelope/folder thing at 4th D at primary time, they threw their hands up as if I was handing them lava. So perhaps it really was that one singular poll worker got it wrong.

      • Shelley

        My experience mirrors Ananomon. I was instructed to put my ballot in a big white envelope, walk it the 9 yards to the box and put the ballot in the machine myself. Privacy screens? My machine didn’t have an obvious one but, unprompted, the poll worker told me to hold the white envelope up to the screen to protect my privacy. I

      • carol

        I voted early in Colombia heights , there were privacy screens and I personally put my ballot in the final machine.

        I have been very impressed with the volunteer staff in both elections I have participated since living here. The fact that we have enough volunteers to have several early voting options 2 weeks before election is great! Not everyone can make it the the polls on election day.

        I am sure there are cases of volunteers not following protocol but here is a shout out to all the ones who do! Its a lot of much needed volunteer hours

    • Elle

      That is something volunteers ask at the primaries, and some people probably just default to asking it at the general election, too.
      You are, however, always supposed to be able to put your own ballot in the counting machine, regardless of what sort of an election it is.

    • nameless

      So that volunteer definitely got it wrong in large part because the act of voting is putting your ballot (sealed or otherwise) in the box, not filling out the little bubbles. Having someone else do it (like your small child) unless you cannot physically do it is not allowed- at all.
      The primary they need to confirm your party affiliation before giving you a ballot to ensure you get the correct one but at no time after that does it matter. All ballots go into the same machine and are read regardless of party.
      Good for you for calling downtown. If anyone else sees something odd- ask to talk to the precinct captain too/ before you call depending on what you’re doing. They are in charge and have a faster line to downtown if they aren’t sure of the answer to your question.
      ALWAYS ASK if you think something looks strange with how the election operates!

  • CapHill23

    I’m volunteering to work at one of my local precincts and just had the training. The machines have privacy screens, so only those standing directly in front of the screen can see it. The machines also have fold outs that can come down and cover the screen on the sides, but they don’t put those out unless you request it.

  • uglybetty

    I voted at Judiciary Square yesterday — it’s the home of the Board of Elections. They didn’t have electronic voting when I was there because they were OUT OF PAPER for the receipt you get. Approx. 20 persons voting, approx. 20 people working — but no paper.
    Sad sitation.

    • Commentator

      I voted there yesterday, too, after work and voting electronic was entirely seamless and quick, so at least it sounds like it was only a temporary issue.

  • anon

    When I voted in Columbia Heights during the primary there weren’t privacy screens either. I told the people at the polling place, but they didn’t seem to care. I called the board of elections but guess they didn’t do anything either.

    • Shelley

      See my comment @2:50 under Anonmon. That was Columbia Heights. Either they got different training or it depends on the poll worker.

  • Voted in CoHi

    The machines have them built into their screens (like many new ATM screens). No need to worry.

  • Anonymous

    Will continue to vote by mail. Easily worth the cost of two stamps so I don’t have to deal with fallible humans at polling stations. ‘Eff that noise.

    • ah

      Yes, because the USPS is infallible.

      • Anonymous

        Standard mail in the Capital region has a 95%+ on-time delivery rate for 3Q16. Works for me!
        PS – the USPS website has a whole bunch of data nerd graph generators for delivery statistic. Almost as good at the FRED system for economic data!

        • Anonymous

          And once USPS delivers your ballot…it’s processed by robots?

        • DF

          The PO totally failed on our recent move and mail forwarding despite following up with the local manager (for the delivery region). I had to track down the woman who delivered my old apartment to please forward our mail. What a mess.

  • H St Resident

    Unsure why we have both absentee and early voting. Just change the absentee voting to allow anyone to do it and get rid of early voting. Waste of resources.

    • carol

      I could be wrong but absentee voting might use more resources.

    • ah

      One could argue to get rid of absentee voting instead of getting rid of early voting, or severely limit it to those who can prove they will be away during the entire early voting period.

      • H St Resident

        I’m not in favor of eliminating the absentee voting (military, etc). But the early voting – seems like a lot of money for something that isn’t necessary. Having both options available seems like overkill to me.

        • C_petworth

          Early voting is really important. Not everyone as access to transportation, paid time of of work, or available childcare to accommodate voting on just one day. Also anyone with a mobility issue probably cannot handle standing in liens for upwards of 3 hours which is what happens when there is no early voting.

        • Anonymous

          Unless they’re going to make election day a national holiday or move it to a weekend then they need to keep early voting. Even still, I wouldn’t be in favor of getting rid of it, for reasons similar to what C_petworth said.

        • Anon

          I just found out that I’ll be on work travel next Tuesday, and it’s too late to apply for absentee voting. Same thing happened to me in 2008. Both times were very expected (I don’t normally do a lot of work travel). So I’m glad early voting exists.

    • Ashley B.

      Anyone can vote absentee in DC. You don’t need a reason (“no-fault”). You can also sign up to have a ballot sent to you automatically for every election. Super easy and no chance you miss one.

    • Northzax

      Or just go to straight vote by mail. Oregon did it. But really, how much does early voting cost? – couple hundred grand? It’s mostly volunteers, I’m happy to spend the money if it means more people have more opportunity to vote.

      And hey, early voting is probably cheaper, since you need fewer machines on November 8, done some people won’t be there. If the capital expense of machines that are used twice every four years? Better to have fewer machines deployed for several weeks, right?

  • Typical

    I have seen people wearing campaign logos inside the polling places in DC, so this doesn’t surprise me.

    • Anonymous

      Poll workers? Voters can wear whatever they want.

      • Anonamom

        I think people forget that voting regulations and rules are different in every jurisdiction. In Maryland, you aren’t allowed to campaign within a certain number of feet of a polling station, meaning that voters are not allowed to wear political buttons or shirts. Maryland also does not allow cell phones. I was also chastised for allowing my son to cast my ballot for me in 2012, where as in DC my youngest cast my ballot in the primary and my daughter cast my ballot in this election and she got high fives from the poll workers. In some states, you can’t take pictures in the polling place, in others, there’s nothing expressly said about it. Things are just different.

        • Anonymous

          In fairness I think people in this thread are just talking about DC.

    • nameless

      Voters in DC aren’t allowed to wear campaign materials in the precinct- buttons/teeshirts etc need to be covered, hats removed and put away.
      Chances are a poll worker might not have spotted them – point those people out because it’s taken seriously!

  • Anonymous

    Get rid of in-person voting completely. Voting by mail has increased turn out and lowered costs in Oregon. If you can’t afford to mail, there are plenty of free drop boxes in every city. Hugely popular and successful.
    Voting in person is a waste and usually fraught with errors. If anything, it should only be available for those who are disabled or with visual impairments.

  • Alanna Williamson

    The electronic polling machines have privacy screens installed so that you can’t view from an angle. But yes, it did feel disconcerting.

  • Fairmont

    I was at the Columbia Heights location and went with my girlfriend. Ii noticed that they also did not have them. we happened to end up in booths right next to each other and when I talked to her about something on the ballot, we noticed that you could not see the screen of the person next to you. You have to be standing at the right angle to be able to see what is on the screen because of a privacy film that is built into the screen. I have seen similar things for computer screens, phones, tablets, etc. They probably switched to this so that it is easier and takes up less space when the devices are stored/transported.


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