My husband and I were first time candidates for county democratic party committee today, in Pittsburgh's 8th ward, district 11. The day was cold and rainy, and fewer people than usual turned out to vote. I sat in the hallway of the elementary school, just outside the polling place in the gym, and spoke to neighbors and friends as they came and went. This year the county changed over from mechanical to electronic voting machines. (And the new machines at our polling place did not work for the first six-and-a-half hours of voting, so paper ballots were cast instead. Those ballot boxes were later sealed to be counted elsewhere.) The electronic machines, once working, spit out an adding machine tape-like summary of the results at the end of the evening, and the judge of elections at first tried to claim that candidates and observers needed to be at least 100 feet away from the table where the tape was being signed. Since the results were never read aloud, if we hadn't come closer we would not have been able to see a thing. Under polite pressure, she relented, but I still don't know the complete preliminary results from my district, since I don't know the tally of the paper ballots. I miss the old process, which was clumsy, but more transparent.