Service of Ka-Ching

September 15th, 2010

Categories: Business Decisions, Ka-Ching, Management, Paper, Poor, Quality

I voted in the New York Primary yesterday and was blown away by the new equipment and procedure. I heard the new system was either five or 10 years in the planning and cost multi millions of dollars. If I woke up this morning and someone told me I had until Friday to come up with a system, it would have been better.

All I could think of was “What’s the back-story? Who lobbied whom to get this deal?”

We used to walk into a booth, close a curtain, click some levers and out. The type was nice and big and at eye level.

I was handed a sheet of paper-It was very long and thin, and didn’t look like a standard size:  Ka-ching to the paper provider and the printer.

I was sent to a booth that looked as though it had been made in shop by 8th graders. There was a pen [ka-ching to the pen vendor] and a plastic magnifier [ka-ching] because the print was extremely small. In NYC, the instructions are written in several languages which they don’t have to be in other parts of the state, but this takes up space. Formatting is key.

Instead, the ballot is poorly designed and very hard to figure out. The formatting got a zero grade. I think that those 8th graders might have done a better job.

I filled in the little dots [back to my SAT testing days] and walked to one of two scanners. The scanner attendant stood up to show me how to input the ballot. I was shocked and asked for confirmation-I had to slip in my ballot facing up! Talk about privacy? Don’t tell me nobody looks: The attendants had to confirm that voters didn’t mark the dots with a check or an x.

What happened to green sensibilities-tons of paper we never used before? And who is storing all these paper ballots now? [Ka-ching to the storage place.]

About 10 percent of voters showed up in New York for this primary. On WOR Radio 710 this morning, I heard that in some districts, the scanners ran into trouble. The scanner is set on a trashcan-like object that catches and stores the ballots. But in one district, in spite of the light turnout, the can was full and backed up the scanner. There were no spare cans available.

Mayor Bloomberg was beside himself because some districts were four hours late in opening up. “That is a royal screw-up, and it’s completely unacceptable,” he said.

I was going to call this column back to the future. I feel that this procedure has set voting procedure in New York decades back. The waste of paper, alone, makes me shiver. It smacks of loving hands at home, too many steps and no room to accommodate voters in the spaces they now use to vote such as school gymnasiums, church and synagogue basements.

Almost nobody was at the polling place last night when I voted, and yet I could hardly negotiate all the sign-in tables, voting cubbies that took up the center of the room and scanner. On a busy voting day, the synagogue basement is jammed with people. Where will they go? How will they move to the various stations much less line up? Will we be building places to accommodate voters or will we all be going to Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium?

If you vote in New York, how did you feel about the experience? Can you think of other instances in your life where new-and-improved turned out to be two steps back?

9 Responses to “Service of Ka-Ching”

  1. Linda Said:


    My experience was a little different as I voted in Nassau County. The ballot was simple…only three choices to be made and it was all in English. AND you certainly can scan it in upside down, as I did according to the instructions given to me. The computer quickly confirmed that my ballot was cast properly. For me it was simple and easy…in and out in less than 5 minutes and there was a nice flow in the room and quite a lot of people going in and out just as quickly. Maybe I am starting to like the suburbs!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Uh Oh, Linda,

    One of us did it wrong, I fear. A colleague in Westchester was also told to slip the ballot into the scanner face up as well. Quelle mess.

    He also didn’t think that the issue of space would affect voting where he does. Like everything else, we are more compact in Manhattan….but we count, too! [Is that a pun?]

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    New York State is in the midst of a financial crisis, yet some geniuses purchased thousands of clunkers at a whopping $12,000.00 each in order to facilitate the voting process. They were basically not that difficult to operate, but now, the voter instead of being able to complete his task in seconds, must now spend time coloring in a dot each time he finds the candidate of his choice. “Makes me feel I’m back in third grade!” exclaimed a voter upon receiving instructions. Someone has made a pile of dough at the expense of the already overburdened taxpayer, and that someone should be exposed and forced to repay. Those responsible for the purchase should be fired, but not before being heavily fined. Regressing into the 19th Century is in no way to be defined as progress. The next step is to censure Congress for interfering with the voting process in the states. That’s where it all started.

  4. Simon Carr Said:


    I’m appalled by what you and others have told me about happened at the poles yesterday!

    I saw no point in voting because my political party has sold out to radical, racist, hyper-Christian nut-cases. There were no viable choices for me to make without risk of extreme, life-threatening indigestion.

    However, more importantly, if I have to pick between pinko-commie, liberal, bleeding heart democrats on one hand and holier-than-thou, Sarah Palen, fascist bigot republicans on the other, what’s the point of bothering to wait hours to vote in November just to have my ballot invalidated just because the people running the place didn’t like the way I voted.

    For the first time in many years, I doubt if I will go to the poles.

    A suggestion to those of us who care about their country: Let’s start a new political party, the Citizens Party, for taxpaying, sane citizens, have Mayor Bloomberg lead it and use his fortune to ensure fair, efficient elections with secret ballots. Our traditional parties have sold out to the fat-cat power elite who have the clout and marketing know-how to buy any election they want. We need change!


  5. JBS Said:

    My guess is the reason you had a scanner had to do with the Senate
    race in Minnesota two years ago. We’ve voted similarly to your way for
    several years. It was months in 2008 before they declared a winner,
    Al Franken, who in my opinion is a far left liberal loser, but they
    counted, and recounted and recounted ballots before he won by less than
    300 votes. Either way it was a mess, and we had no Senator for
    months. And then there is the vote for president with Florida’s

    I don’t know if there is a good way, but the booths with the
    levers have been gone from here for years … I remember going into
    one with my parents as a child.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It is pretty depressing to vote, no matter how, when you are not enamoured of any of the candidates.


    It doesn’t seem as though flim-flammery is in the woodwork in Minnesota as we suspect it is here. The custom sized paper is a giveaway. Goodness! The thoughtless waste of resources and Lucrezia notes use of $12,000 equipment in this or any economy turns my stomach.

  7. JBS Said:

    The size of the paper in Minnesota is smaller than typing paper and not an unsual size. It is considerably heavier than a piece of typing paper.

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    PS Hey folks! What’s this talk regarding so called “Nazi facists” or “bleeding heart liberals” or “Commies?” Sounds like a great deal of repeating party lines to me. Concluding that our candidates fit that description is simplistic at best, and shows lack of study of either the issues, the candidates, or both.

    I was forced to make some dismal choices at the polls, and voted more “against” than “for” individuals, some of whom I consider dangerous. It’s not much, but at least an effort to encourage our elected officials to clean up their act.

    Staying home and doing nothing but pontificate over “Nazis” and “Commies” is hardly an answer to a bad situation. Sitting on ones hands does not entitle an individual to cast judgement on choices of people who take the trouble to vote, or those who are elected. As one who pounds pavements and makes calls for certain candidates, I harbor deep resentment of name callers who know nothing of those they rant against. Should the privilege of voting, not to speak of voicing views without fear of punishment, vanish, it’s those who sat there doing nothing who will have no one to blame but themselves.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Simon said he’d vote for Bloomberg for President!

    I wish I could get excited about my choices: Lesser of two evils is what I am faced with as well.

    Meanwhile, I have heard from others who put their ballot face down while I was told face up and still others were told it didn’t matter. Maybe for $12,000, the equipment does scan up or down…but it seems unlikely to me.

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