I’ve always excelled at vision tests. Whenever I’ve taken one – either at the Department of Motor Vehicles or ophthalmologist - I have always aced the bottom line, reading it out without hesitation.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I need a little help here and there so I have a pair of reading glasses, but I don’t use them all the time. In other words, generally my eyesight is pretty good.
So it was with great alarm that I stood inside the polling station last week trying to read the ballot. Are they joking us with that thing? Who wrote that? Ant-Man?
As I stood inside P.S. 97, ballot in hand at my polling station, I looked around at people laboring over their own ballots. The guy next to me held it out at arm’s length and squinted. No good. He placed it down flat on the polling table and bent over. Not much better.
Meanwhile, I was having just as much success. Eventually, I spotted the person I was planning to vote for in the main election and was able to muddle through from there. But forget about voting for judges, I had a headache by the time I got to that. And only the Marquis de Sade in a bad mood could have designed the back page with all of its proposed constitutional amendments.
Now, typically, the font size of the text you read in a newspaper or a magazine is somewhere between 10 and 12 points. The text you are reading right now in the Leader/Observer is 10.5 points.
The text on the New York City Election Ballots was six-point font, nearly half the size of the words you are reading right now. And where do you usually find such small print? At the bottom of advertisements, where they print all the stuff they don’t want you to read.
Six-point font is what they use when they are legally obligated to tell you that the product they’re selling might give you numbness, periodic blindness, explosive diarrhea, and violent fits of coughing. Six-point font is all the stuff a shady lawyer doesn’t want you to read before signing.
And even if you manage to read the ballot, it doesn’t really get much better. They bring you over to a fancy machine that sucks up your ballot and says thank you. That’s it? I don’t know about you, but I don’t walk away from this process with a whole lot of confidence that my vote was counted.
Our city can’t keep the lights on in a park that’s being stalked by a rapist. It took the city months of complaints to take care of a house spewing urine and feces out onto a sidewalk 100 feet away from a nursery school. Our country spends millions and millions of dollars and years of programming to develop a website that doesn’t work.
Suddenly, we’re supposed to expect that this machine can flawlessly read our votes?
This Monday, we all spent time reflecting on the great sacrifices the men and women in our armed forces have made to allow us the freedoms we have. As the old famous poem says, “It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.”
Let’s honor their sacrifices by doing a better job with the rights they fought so hard to secure.