Thursday, November 09, 2006

a walk to the polls

The sun shone down, a nice breeze accompanied me, and late fall leaves covered trees and the ground as I walked to the polls on Tuesday. I left work a little before noon and walked to the Presbyterian Church, which is about halfway between my office and home. Even though two precincts vote here, I had evidently come at a good time. I was greeted by several neighbors who were serving as election judges. Only two other voters were in line.

The new electronic voting machine confused me a little. I had used it in the spring primaries but hadn't remembered how it worked. I had remembered it churning out a paper ballot that I dropped in a box. My memory failed me. The machine does create a paper ballot, but it stays under a plastic panel - I couldn't touch it - and when you press "cast ballot," the paper gets conveyed into the machine.

I found it pretty easy to use. A woman behind me, however, was not amused by the new technology. She kept stammering "this is stupid," and "this is totally unnecessary, it is so stupid." I finished before she actually entered a booth, so I hope she didn't end up causing trouble for the volunteers.

They encouraged me to paste an "I voted" sticker on my shirt before I left. "It might remind someone else to vote," they said.

I proudly slapped it on and continued my walk home, where I ate a big bowl of soup, played with the kitten and petted the dogs, and turned on the news to see if the rest of the country was having a peaceful day at the polls.

I did hear of intimidation and obfuscation occurring in a few cities and of new electronic machines not working in others, but overall things seemed to be going well. Many of my coworkers talked of going to the county offices to vote early this year. That doesn't appeal to me as much a getting to walk to the polls on my lunch hour.

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