I served for four hours as a poll-watcher during the last election and think it might be useful for me to share with the community the troubles many voters experienced completing their civic duty.
This is the first time I have voted using a “Sharpie” pen, which was anchored to the voting table and which was the only pen we were allowed to use. The ballot was a two-sided ballot, so it was very problematic to vote on both sides. I noticed that there were an unusual number of voters who had to destroy the first ballot because the machine couldn’t count the ballot as “successful.”
Often the ballots were not accepted because the ink “bled” into the paper so far that it appeared on the reverse side and seemed to indicate votes in the wrong places. Some had to fill out the ballot twice and quite a few filled out three ballots. This took the voters’ time and upset a good number of folks, especially some elderly who became very self-conscious because they were “wasting ballots” and “making mistakes.” But it wasn’t their fault and the election workers tried to ease their discomfort.
The whole world knows that Sharpie pens bleed, and that if you do decide to use a Sharpie pen and have a two-sided ballot, you should also have a non-porous paper to prevent the ink traveling to the second side of the sheet. I voted early, and the pen I had to use was dumping ink at such a rate that I just gave up and didn’t vote on the second side after the first proposition.