When I walked into the voting booth on November 6, 2018, I was excited. I felt like we were ready to make real changes to the commonwealth and to the country, and I was excited to vote for someone I actually knew! I met Malcolm Kenyatta in the prolonged fight to save the Affordable Care Act in 2017, and stayed in touch through our shared activism. He was running for state representative and I was going to get to vote for a friend.
Except when I pulled the curtain around me - after the woman at the desk incorrectly asked for my ID - my ballot did not have Malcolm Kenyatta’s name. It had the representative in the area a few blocks away. I exited and said “this is the wrong ballot.” But I was assured that it was correct because it was the ballot that the city gave us. I doubted myself, thinking maybe I misread the boundaries of the district, and voted. When I came out of the booth, I was asked what name was on the ballot, and when I repeated the story was then told it was the wrong machine.
For two and a half hours, people in my division voted for the wrong state representative. I don’t know how many votes that was, and in the end it did not swing the election. I did not get to vote for my friend, and I spent the day worried that my entire ballot would be thrown out.
It wouldn’t be the first time my vote didn’t count. I was ecstatic to cast a ballot for who I hoped would be the first woman president in 2016. I was heartbroken when she lost, and especially when Pennsylvania’s electoral college went for her opponent. When during this past election cycle I saw I was listed as a non-voter in 2016, I was infuriated. I still don’t know why my vote did not count that year. I even have a picture (above) of my selection! Was it an issue with the machine? With the division? There aren’t 22,000 votes from my division, but how many one-vote errors were there across the city and the state?
Elections are getting tighter and tighter. We cannot afford errors in any precinct or division. The judge of elections, majority and minority officials, and machine inspectors are there to ensure the accuracy, integrity, and efficiency of our voting. The training for these roles is insufficient, hurried and harried. Officials aren’t given any training on provisional ballots and many do not know what to do if something goes wrong. As City Commissioner, I would overhaul training for election officials, and ensure that every vote is properly cast and properly counted.