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Open Balloting?

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The debut of computer-scanned voting in the District’s Sept. 10 primary threatened one ancient fundamental of democracy: the secret ballot. Dorothy Miller, a Democratic captain for Precinct 3, says several voters complained to her that poll workers had removed their ballots from the secrecy sleeves before inserting them into the reading machine—putting their clearly inked choices on public view. The problem, Board of Elections and Ethics spokesperson Bill O’Field says, was a mistake in ballot design: Primary ballots were printed with the tear-off voter’s receipt at the bottom, so workers had to open the sleeves to get at the perforations. In November, O’Field says, the ballots will be perforated across the top, allowing voters to tear their own receipts and feed the ballots directly into the machine. “We don’t want to see your ballot,” O’Field says. “We do not want to touch your ballot.” —Joe Dempsey