Confusion. Why does it seem to always cloud polling places? Kenneth Hoffman, an educated, informed Florida businessman and registered voter relays a story to me through an e-Mail list he and I participate on, that I want to pass along here with his unbridled permission.

On the evening of Super Tuesday I posted a comment on the Voter-ID issue, a hot potato within the political and policy circles. Well, once again, voters are bitten by flaws in the people-administered processes.

You see a revered chracteristic of the (little "d") democratic process of voting is anonymity. This has been well vetted, for instance, here. And in this case I relay below, the problem now is that the actual person controlling the ballot "knows" who Mr. Kenneth Hoffman is, thereby eliminating his required anonymity (as to his cast votes).

Of course, this is not the first time we've run across problems with voter anonymity, but it is an interesting real-world in the trenches experience recount worth passing along here, because as a process logic and user interface geek I obsess over the processes and how they exist manually verses how they might be automated specifically to limit human error or problems of social engineering. And speaking of confusing even well educated citizen's simply trying to do their civic duty, here's a comment to a recent post about high asurance processes that adds to the experience set.

OK, so on to Mr. Hoffman's real and aggravating experience during Florida's primary, which was held on 29 January (not Super Tuesday as apparently some Floridians thought):

From Ken:

I live in Broward County FL, which now requires a driver's license or other photo ID to vote. I've been voting for 30 years and never before has a photo ID been required. The requirement has been either a valid voter's registration card, or a driver's license, state issued ID card, or a current military ID.

In the January 29th vote, as we entered the polling place, the front door clerk asked to see my driver's license (true of all entering with purposes of voting). I produced my voters registration card instead. I was told I had to have a driver's license.

Once inside, you walked up to a bank of computers that had a "memory stick" type device inserted into a USB port. The device was secured to the computer by a thin cable. You handed the clerk your drivers license, which was then run through a card reader. After several seconds the clerk asked me to sign a digital screen. After which a paper copy of my signature and voters information printed on thermal paper.

I then walked over to our precinct number area, handed another clerk my driver's license, and the print out from the 1st clerk. This 2nd clerk compared my signature to my driver's license and to that of the print out and to that of a hard copy she had in a log book. Once she was satisfied that the signatures matched, she returned my driver's license and the first print out. She then gave me a 3x5 piece card on which was imprinted with a "control number" which I had to sign. Never before have we been required to sign that card.

Then we walked over to the voting machine, gave that (3rd) clerk the print out from the 1st clerk which contains all our identifiable information and gave the this clerk the signed control number card. Never before has the (3rd) clerk that controls the voting machine been given any type of personally identifiable information. Once this 3rd clerk was given the papers, they activated the voting machine and then wrote something on the papers they were just given. Then the clerk deposited the papers into a "ballot" type box that was locked.

Conceivably the 3rd clerk controlling the voting machine could had written on the control card the machine I used and the time. Now this is a bit of a stretch, but if the time were written down too, then my particular vote could have been identified.

I felt very disenfranchised over the whole process. My vote should be 100% anonymous.

As we exited the polling place, I asked for a supervisor. I asked a cordial helpful woman why we had to show our driver's license when heretofore it has never been done before. I was told to voice my concerns to the supervisor of elections. Then I explained that my daughter had lost her driver's license, but had her voter's registration card and her university photo ID. And I asked if they would accept that instead in lieu of her lost driver's license. I was not given a straight answer, but was told there "may" be exceptions to the rules...