Tuesday, November 4, 2008

District Number What?

If I announced that my voting experience was ordinary, uneventful and downright dull…would you believe me?

Seriously??

Never once, in all my notes of people and companies and organizations that needed to be notified as to my residential move did it dawn on me to notify my voter registrar.

Where was my head??

After the hassle I’ve endured at my local polling place, I’d like to advise anyone who’s even considering moving any time within the next four years to put your voter registrar right up there after calling the moving company.

I feel it imperative to interject here that I am not stupid. I realize I’ve just moved…and that there was a very serious possibility that my name was in some book, in some district, from 3 moves ago. I am aware that I have been extremely….mobile….the last few years. So, I called the “Election Hotline” this afternoon to inquire as to the whereabouts of my very own, personal polling location. After explaining my recent itinerant history, I was informed that I could head over to my local polling place, as long as I arrived armed with picture ID and proof of my present residence.

Okay….I can do that.

I said good-bye to da boys…announcing in my best-announcer-type-voice, “I am off to vote for the next President of the United States of America! Thank you for your support.

I arrived at the teeny Town Hall just a tad ahead of everyone else, which translates to just a few minutes shy of 5pm. There were no endless lines of impatient people spilling out the double front doors, so I figured I was golden. Directly ahead of me upon entering was a table (with no-one waiting!) with three smiling ladies…just waiting for little ole me! As I began to recite my address, their faces fell…and I was told that I was in District #2…and they pointed to a line with about 50 people waiting on it.

I said “Are you sure? Couldn’t you…maybe double-check that?” They sadly shook their heads in unison and merely pointed to the endless line.

With a sigh, I took my place at the end of the endless line. The holdup seemed to be originating with the three elderly volunteer-ladies behind the desk for District #2. “Millie” (the one on the left) was responsible for hand writing each and every name of each and every voter as they registered. In addition to this, she needed to keep count of them as well.


“Millie” was extremely hard of hearing, so the lady in the middle (“Pearl”) had to SHOUT each name, then SHOUT the SPELLING of each name and then SHOUT the number of said person, so “Millie” wouldn’t lose count. I got the distinct feeling that “Millie” wasn’t doing so well with the counting part.

All three ladies looked extremely tired, hungry and hot. As a matter of fact, the lady on the right never even said a word…and from the way she rested her head on her hand, she may very well have been napping.

When my turn came, Millie and Pearl were in a heated debate over whether I was voter number 476 (Millie) or 477 (Pearl). So, all processing slowed from a crawl to a stop…as they needed to check with “Earl”…the elderly gentleman who helped people enter and depart from the (ONE) actual voting booth. (Could you just DIE? ONE BOOTH….ONE!)

Pearl: “Earl?.......EARL!!!!” (Earl was evidently also hard of hearing)

(Earl smiles at Pearl and waves in response. Earl is a good 30 feet away from Pearl and has no idea she’s calling him. I hear the lady behind me snicker at this.)

Pearl: “EARL!!! WAS THAT LAST ONE 476 OR 477?”

Earl: (Smiles) “NO. I’M GOOD. MAYBE LATER.”

We’re all confused by this, as no-one can imagine what the hell Earl’s talking about.

Pearl: “THE NUMBER?! WHAT’S THE NUMBER, EARL??”

Earl: “THE LAST ONE WAS 476.”

Millie looked vindicated, Pearl looked annoyed and I could swear I heard a smattering of spontaneous applause from somewhere in the back of the (now out the door) line.

When Pearl couldn’t find my name in the voter’s book, I thought she was going to stroke out right then and there. She pulled herself together and informed Millie that I’d be needing an “affidavit ballot”, which I believe is governmental lingo for “make the voter fill everything out by hand as punishment for not contacting their voter registrar immediately after calling the moving company”.

So. Millie led me to a quiet corner…gave me the abbreviated version of what to do, “Fill in numbers 1, 2 and 4…leave #3 blank…sign here…and here….but NOT HERE because I have to witness you signing that part...then you can fill in the actual voter’s card” and off she shuffled, as all registration had ceased ‘cause there was no-one to fill in the numbers on the paper, don’t-cha-know.

I would’ve gotten through the boring paperwork a lot faster had the guy whose job it was to man the “handicapped/wheelchair accessible” voter’s booth not been so starved for conversation that he felt the need to share the fact that “no-one…not one single handicapped individual would agree to use this new machine…probably ‘cause it takes twice as long to vote as a regular machine…but take a look at this weird key I have to use each time…” as he dangles what looks like a computer chip on the end of a string in front of me.

"Huh," I say...wondering (not for the first time) why people seem to have this agonizing need to converse with me at the most inopportune of times.

And I’m thinking “Hel-lo….person voting here….don’t talk to me NOW….”, as he finally wanders back to his chair.

I recorded my choice for The Next President of the United States of America, stuck it in the envelope and sealed it, per Millie’s instructions. She then had me sign once again in her presence and she witnessed it with a signature of her own. Very FBI meets Golden Girls.

As she walked off to deposit it into a special tote bag (made expressly for this purpose, I’m sure) she called back to me, “If I were you, I’d call someone and complain. Tell ‘em all the trouble you had to go through ‘cause you weren’t in the damn book.”

Yes, I believe Millie has had enough.

See Kay said...

I have wanted to volunteer to work at the voting booths for a while, but I don't have the type of job where I can take off and still pay my mortgage. So I have to content myself with going to vote at 6am. I was in very good company.

I do applaud you for going the extra mile to cast your vote. Thank you!

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