Do we need to watch our votes and double check they are not changed, possibly the machine rigged, in US Presidential election?
Ok, look. Here’s the thing people need to be very clear about:Voting machines are machines. Machines break, or malfunction from time to time.People are also people, and people make mistakes, fail to properly follow instructions, or otherwise commit errors when they are operating machines, or filling out ballots.These things will happen. They will sometimes lead to a person’s vote being recorded incorrectly. This happens pretty rarely, but when you have 130 million or so votes being cast, if it happened to 1% of all voters (and it probably won’t happen with nearly that frequency, but still) you’d be talking about 1.3 million voters across the country. And with many of those people posting on social media, and other people reposting, sharing or re-tweeting those stories, the idea can rapidly spread that the election is “rigged” in some way, by one side or the other.The simple reality is, in a process run by humans, using machines built by humans, to count ballots filled out by humans, mistakes will happen. Things will occasionally go wrong. They always do. That’s not evidence of a conspiracy, or an attempt to steal the election. It’s human error, or machine error, or some combination of both.So…what should you do about this?Well, the first thing, if at all possible, is to understand in advance the type of voting system your state uses. Is it a touch-screen computerized machine, with no paper ballot? Some states use these. Is it an optical-scan ballot machine • that is, one where you fill in a circle next to the name of the candidate you are voting for, usually using a black pen or #2 pencil, and then feed the ballot into a machine which reads and records it? Most states these days use one of these two systems, but there may be other, older systems still in use in some places. Either way, if possible learn which kind of machines your state, and your local polling location, use. You can usually find this information on your state board of elections website. A quick google search will help you locate this site. Here, for example, is the page which explains the different voting machines in use in my home state of New York: Board of ElectionsThe machines may be different in each state, however, so do NOT use the link I posted above as a guide unless you happen to live in New York. Look up your own state’s BOE website.Anyway, the point is, being familiar with the type of voting machine in advance will be helpful to you if you are worried about your ballot being recorded incorrectly. But if you do not have the time or the inclination to do that, then when you get to your polling location, carefully read any posted instructions about the use of the machines. Do not hesitate to ask one of the workers at the polling location for help understanding what you are supposed to do if you are not 100% clear on how to use the voting machine. The better you understand what you are supposed to do, the more likely you are to fill out your ballot correctly and the less likely there is to be a mistake that will affect how the machine reads it.Finally, and this is perhaps the most important thing, take your time. Do not rush through the process. Rushing is how mistakes are made. If you’re voting on a touch screen machine, carefully be certain to touch only the location on the screen that marks the name of the person you are voting for. Do not rush. Do not treat it like your iPhone or iPad, the screen may be either more or less sensitive than you are used to.If it’s an optical scanner machine, be sure to fill in the circle next to the person you intend to vote for carefully. Make sure your circle is dark. Try hard to stay inside the lines. Be sure you don’t make any stray pen or pencil marks on other parts of the ballot.Focus on what you’re doing, be sure to understand the instructions, and cast your ballot carefully.If you do all of these things, your ballot is very likely to be recorded correctly. However, if you have reason to believe it is not, immediately ask for help. Depending on the specific voting system in use, there may or may not be anything that can be done. Some mistakes will happen. This is unavoidable. But the odds are very high that your vote will, in fact, be recorded correctly. So don’t lose sleep over it.Just be careful, be sure you understand what you are supposed to do, and don’t rush. If there’s a problem, ask for help. Whatever happens, there’s no conspiracy targeting you or trying to take away your voting rights. There’s just a certain chance of an error occurring on any individual vote cast, and while that chance is very very low, when you have a lot of people voting nationwide, there will still be stories of this happening. I guarantee you, on election day, all over social media, there will be stories of people’s votes being incorrectly registered. Some of these stories will be true, but again, it’s because there will be an error rate that cannot be completely eliminated. Social media will probably magnify these stories to make them seem far more common than they actually are (this happened in several primaries, for example.) But when you hear these things, you should still be confident that your vote is likely to be registered correctly.Think of it this way: you will hear stories of people who get struck by lightning. We know it happens. But the odds of it happening to you are fairly low, and there are things you can do to make it less likely (like not being outside during a storm.) It’s the same thing here.