|VAT (Voter Assist Terminal)|
So back I go to the VAT equipped polling station, this time I expressed that I wish to use the VAT and was immediately taken to the head clerk, who started into "you have to go to your…" to which I replied "I'm here to use the VAT" after a few minutes I was introduced to the VAT tech, a pleasant fellow whom tells me I need a ballot transfer in order to vote and he needs to "call in for permission". At this point I'm thinking how crazy is this? that the city offers this service then makes it extremely difficult and time consuming to use? After permission was granted, I head to the… wait I know what your thinking, the VAT? Nope! First I need to fill out the Ballot transfer, I'm shown to another table (w/ the tech) where a frustrated and rude woman, blows us off stating "this is not my job". Luckily the head Clerk intervened and after a conference as to weather a "special ballot was needed for the machine" managed to get me a ballot.
Finally I pull up the VAT, I'm handed a wired remote and given a quick overview. easy right? Well no, I push the button and nothing! after a quick scan I noticed the remote was not fully plugged in, then I further notice that the remote was plugged into the headphone port and the headphones plugged into the remote port, at this time i'm now instructing the tech and thinking who do I send a bill to? With all the cabling issues sorted it was finally voting time. a ballot is inserted into the VAT and as I have limited use of my arms, the tech had to follow the prompts in order to activate the remote allowing you to scan with one button and select with another. After 10 minutes and 3 ejected ballots (due to incorrect candidate selections) I had officially exercised my democratic right…
Overall I would say it was a frustrating experience that offered far less independence and confidentiality (because of all the steps involved) than the old way of just asking the clerk for assistance, I was also surprised at the lack of knowledge about the VAT amongst the clerks.
However don't get me wrong, I appreciate the effort put forth but the city, realize the technology is in it's infancy and look forward to future improvements. I also think / hope that all things considered, I helped educate not only myself but others in the process and that to me is all positive!