Do you remember the last time you were inside a local polling station? Maybe it was a station that had been temporarily erected inside a public school or library, or even a restaurant or a neighbor’s garage.
Perhaps you were there to cast a ballot in a municipal election. Maybe you were voting in a presidential primary election. But whatever the scenario, and wherever the location, it’s unlikely that you spent much time thinking about the intricacies of the polling place’s voting machines. And yet … maybe you should have.
Did you know, for instance, that the very first voting machine to use a lever debuted in 1892? Known as the “Myers Automatic Booth,” it was such a success that mechanical lever machines were still being used as recently as 1996.
But you’re unlikely to ever again see a lever-operated mechanical voting machine, at least outside of an antiques store. We are, after all, solidly in the Age of Electronics. And that at least partially explains why computerized voting machines—many of them complete with electronic touchscreens—have completely replaced the old mechanic models that served the country for more than a century.
If you’re over the age of 18, there’s a decent chance you’ve used a touchscreen-enabled voting machine, which is technically known as a direct-recording electronic (DRE) machine.
Only 7.7 percent of polling stations in the United States were using DRE machines in 1996, when they first came into popular use. By 2004 that number had risen to 28.9 percent. Regardless of the controversy surrounding the machines, which some voters consider highly fallible and relatively easy to hack, electronic voting is now a staple of the voting process not only in the U.S., but worldwide.
The experience of driving down unfamiliar roads and highways suddenly became a whole lot simpler in the mid-2000s, which was roughly when in-car GPS navigation devices began catching on en masse. Almost overnight, the days of pulling onto the shoulder to wrestle with an enormous paper map were over.
In fact, thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of navigation consoles, even MapQuest and similar map-based websites have lately begun falling out of favor. Indeed, a vehicle without an LCD display command center today is practically considered suspect.
Your In-Car Navigation System Has a Potentially Expensive and Dangerous Downside
There is a downside, however, to having GPS navigation displays installed in just about every motor vehicle on the market today: The graphics on the displays can occasionally be very hard to see.
On some screens, excessive glare from the sun can nearly drown out any text or graphics, which can potentially be very dangerous. And there’s definitely nothing safe about squinting at your GPS display while you’re supposed to be concentrating on the road.
That’s not all: Drivers who wear glare-reducing polarized sunglasses while they’re behind the wheel frequently complain about the difficulty of reading their navigation display screens. Polarized sunglasses have become increasing popular over the past few years, and for good reason: they do a great job of reducing the sun’s reflected glare. Still, it’s a known fact that polarized lenses significantly reduce the visibility of images produced by LCD or LED displays. (Your in-car navigation system almost certainly has an LCD display.)