The First Tuesday In November
You know what that means? I hope you do...at least if you are here in the USA. It's Election Day and if you are of age you should be registered and you should get out there and VOTE. No, it's not a national election (no President involved), but it is an election and as we've learned time and time again, every vote counts. Your opinion counts. But only if you cast that ballot.
Last year, I voted early by "mailing" in my ballot (placing it in the "mailbox" outside the police station). This year I had the option to do that, to go physically in person on a variety of dates to a polling place (one that is not where I usually go, but it not too far from my house) or vote in person as I usually do at my local district elementary school. This is what I chose to do.
Now things have changed. Things have even changed since I voted in May (town council vote). It's not the same process and not necessarily the same people on staff. And I'm going to say, I miss the "old" way. I would walk in and see the ladies that I always see. They'd find my name in the "book". I'd sign. They'd have me sign and I'd get my "number" (I'm usually #1!) I'd go over to the machine and hand over my number. I'd go in and press the buttons for the candidates that I selected (and I ALWAYS do my research beforehand so I know exactly who and what I am voting for), hit the cast ballot button and walk out. That was it.
No so this morning. I arrived at exactly 6 AM. They were not ready. The machine was not ready. So I waited. The three people there were new to me. A few minutes later another poll worker arrived who I knew by sight...I believe she oversees the process as she has appeared to be in charge in the past. (Don't know what her exact role or title is.) She immediately went over the machine and began giving instructions to the team that was already there.
Two of the team went with her to the machine, while the third signed me in using an iPad; confirming my name and address (but not asking for ID which I had just in case). Then I actually signed in to get my "number" (and yes, I was #1). By this time there was someone else waiting behind me. (A gentleman from around the block who I see regularly as he walks his dog when I go out and do my morning walk.) Then I stood there waiting, while the woman in charge told the man who was sitting down that he had to open the package with the ballots, give me one which had to be inserted into the privacy cover and to make sure the correct district number was on the ballot. This took a few seconds as he searched for where the district number was on the sheet, before he finally handed it over to me.
I took the sheet (in the privacy sleeve) over to the area where I could fill it out. Good thing I brought my readers because filling out the little ovals with the black sharpie is more difficult to see than just pressing a button in the booth. (And brought back SAT anxiety!) Still, it took me no more than a few seconds to fill in my little ovals with my selections and slip it back into the privacy sleeve.
I then indicated to the woman who I thought was manning the machine that would scan my ballot that I was done. But she didn't get it right away and tried to have me go back to the area where I filled out the ballot. I said that I was done and was ready to have it scanned. So we walked over to the machine, I pulled the ballot out of the privacy sleeve and feed it into the scanner. (Not unlike feeding a piece of paper into a copier machine...however it's been over a year since I've done that!) It took 30 or so seconds before it said my ballot had been accepted and I was good to go.
The whole process took less than 10 minutes (I'm guessing), but more than five and definitely more than what I had experienced in the past. I'm not complaining (well, I'm not complaining much). Change happens (hopefully for a reason) and it's important to vote, even if you have to wait first thing in the morning. Exercising our right to vote is crucial to our country's democracy. It is my opinion that everyone who is eligible should be registered and should vote in every election.
So if today is your day, keep the following in mind:
- The process may be different than what you've experience before
- The people may be different than who you've dealt with before
- Be patient; you may have to wait longer than you have in the past
- Be careful; things are not exactly as they once were.
- Be thoughtful: wear a mask.
Finally, get out there and vote! (Even if you don't get a sticker...I didn't. I thought I saw some, but I wanted to get home and didn't take the time to investigate. It's not about the sticker...it's about the vote!)