Yesterday morning, for the second time, I voted from my new address in the suburbs, after many years of voting in Chicago. It’s pretty much the same experience out here as it was in the city, except out here they have good parking.
I only had to stand in line a minute or two before giving my name to one of the election judges, who looked me up on the computer and printed out a label for my application to vote. I signed the application, and then both judges checked it against the copy of my signature on the label. Satisfied, they initialed it and sent me down to receive my ballot.
This was the first election where I’ve seen them use the computerized ePollbook system to check my registration. In the past, they always used a giant printed book. Normally, I’m skeptical of computerized election procedures, but since the giant printed book was computer-generated anyway, this seemed like an improvement without an increased risk. I thought it worked well.
The system broke down a bit, however, when I got to the ballot judge. He checked my application, grabbed the appropriate ballot form, initialed it, and handed it to me. As I stepped away, I noticed something odd. He had given me two ballot forms.
Oh my God, this was my big chance! After decades of voting in Chicago, I was finally getting to live the Chicago election motto: Vote early, vote often!
My mind was off in a flash: Nobody was paying attention, so I could just walk to the booth. Voting is private by law and design, so nobody would be able to see what I was doing. I could fill out both ballots and vote twice. Problem: The judge had only initialed one ballot. But would anyone notice? Maybe I could just feed the ballot to the AccuVote tabulator and let it be counted. Probably no one would notice it was missing the judge’s initials unless they had to do a manual recount. Alternatively, I could forge a copy of the judge’s initials on the other ballot. Problem: Can I get away with feeding two ballots to the tabulator? Maybe, if no one was watching. Or I could leave one of the ballots behind in the voting booth, where another voter would discover it and report it to a judge, who might solve the problem by feeding it to the tabulator. Better yet, I could try depositing both ballots, and then if someone spotted me, I could claim that I had found the second ballot in the booth, and I was just trying to be helpful because I didn’t want someone to lose their vote…
With a heavy heart, I turned back to the judge’s table and handed back the extra ballot, and then I went to vote. Just once. Like all the other losers.
But for that one shining moment…