A Pulse and a Pencil

So the election is over. Don't worry, I'll leave the discussion of who won and whether that is good or bad to other folks. The thing that stands out most to me about this election was how amazingly easy it was to vote.

Now, when I say easy, I'm not talking about how close I got to park or how long I had to stand in line. I'm talking about the void of all things formal in the voting process. Maybe I'm just getting use to the rectal exams at the airport, or maybe I have no trust in my fellow man, but I couldn't believe what it took, or rather didn't, to vote. All I needed was a pulse and a pencil.

For me, the voting process was 4 steps.
1. Write my name on a pad of paper on the way in to the polling place.
2. Sign my name -in pencil- next to a name in the voter log (is that what it's called?).
3. Fill out my vote
4. Leave

Step 2 was the one that really got to me. I went with my wife and all she had to do to get a blank vote was mention the first 2 letters of our last name and point to her name. They then kindly handed over the log for her signature, in pencil :) All I had to do was sign my name on the line below hers. I didn't say a word.
At first, this all sounds pretty normal, but how in the world do they know that's us? We didn't show ID. We didn't give our address for them to verify. We didn't even have to have a real last name. All it took was 2 letters and a grunting point of the finger.

In elections as close as the last two presential elections, surely there would be tighter controls on voter verification, right? Altering the outcome of the presidential election might be tougher to do, but couldn't you get just about anyone elected locally by gathering a few friends and show up at various polling places to "help" fill out the vote of the person on page 4 of the "Smith" listings?

Maybe my polling place was abnormally lax. Maybe there are no evil people in my city and there is nothing to worry about. Maybe the penalty for getting caught voting as someone else is stiff enough to prevent widescale action. Maybe. But maybe they could just ask to see a government approved ID. I don't mind, really. I have to prove my identity to buy a cold beer. Why shouldn't I have to do the same to be able to choose the direction of my country?

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