Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I hate being a "provisional" voter

I don’t know if it was from sitting outside freezing at the Seahawks game, or the stress of the election, but I was as sick as a dog last week. I’m not sure why we single out dogs as a simile, but nevertheless, I was pretty darned sick. I tried being a trooper and going to work. But between the hacking, sneezing and major snot flow, I was treated as welcome as a leper at a Mary Kay Cosmetics party. That was last Tuesday. I was sick, but I had to vote.

I don’t believe in absentee voting. I like to get my ballot, go to a booth, make my decisions and then watch the ballot safely slide into the ballot box. At least then, I know it should be counted. Something about trusting my ballot to the US Postal Service is terribly frightening to me. Don’t get me wrong. I think the USPS does one heck of a job considering the volume they have to deal with, but every now and then, some things just slip off into a black hole somewhere at the post office and never make it to the intended destination. I mean, these are the same people who stopped delivering my mail for a week when the evil tree removers were removing my neighbor’s tree. They never did explain that to me. I believe the carrier was morbidly afraid of chippers.

But I digress.

I went to my neighborhood polling place (why do they always make you vote in elementary school gyms) and slyly slipped by the bake sale strategically positioned right outside the gym. Ok, there weren’t the major lines reported in many places, but it was busy. I go up to the table for my precinct and hand my registration card to the elderly lady sitting behind it. This same old lady has worked the table for the past 17 years since I’ve been voting here and not once has she been able to find my name in the registration book in less than 15 minutes. This is where I’m going to rant about using volunteers to work at polling places. I’ve got nothing against old people. Shoot, I’m rapidly approaching being an old fart myself. But why do the elections offices use them to monitor something as important as distributing and logging ballots. This particular old lady was not even pleasant in a grandmotherly way. She was old and bitchy. When she finally found my name, she snapped at me, “This says you’ve registered to vote absentee.”

Ok, I’m sick. I’m standing there with mucus dripping from my nose like a river and this bitchy old lady is staring at me like I’m a terrorist trying to scam a ballot out of her to vote democrat. I tense up and respond that there must be some mistake. She tells me I have to use a “provisional” ballot, hands me one and says to vote and take it to another table where a younger volunteer is sitting, sorting ballot stubs. I’m a bit confused, but I sit down at a table (all the booths were full, so I didn’t even get the dignity of voting in an actual booth) and mark my ballot. I take it to the volunteer at the “provisional” ballot table and tell her that I was told I was registered to vote absentee and given the “provisional” ballot. She acted put out that I was interrupting her stub sorting, but handed me an envelope and told me to fold the ballot, place it in the envelop and fill out a stub and then place everything in a third envelope. I asked her why I was listed as voting absentee when I never voted absentee. She just shrugged.

I proceed to fill out the stub for the ballot. It asks for basic info like name, address etc. and then asks for my voter registration number. I look all over my registration card and I’ll be damned if there was anything on it that resembled a registration number. I asked the woman which number it was. She frowns and takes my card. And damned if she could find a registration number, either. She said to go ahead and put the ballot in the envelope and she’d get my number later from the old biddy at the first table. I’m getting pretty agitated at this point. The envelope obviously was too small for the ballot. I did my best to shove it in and seal it. Snot is literally dripping onto the table and the woman was giving me dirty looks. I handed her the ballot and watched her push it aside. I have my doubts if it ever made it near a ballot box, but I was given part of the stub with a number and Web site where I could track its progress through the system. To date it hasn’t been counted.

But that is beside the point. Everything’s decided now and my “provisional” ballot isn’t worth a rat’s behind now. You’ve got to love the system.

So, I dragged my sick self home. Ironically, I open my mail and find a letter from the elections commission saying they needed a copy of my signature on file before they could verify my vote. I’ve voted in this state for 24 years, 17 of those at the same place and now they tell me they need a copy of my signature. Oh, and they needed to know my voter’s registration number, too. I xeroxed a copy of my registration card, signed their damned form and put it out in the mailbox, certain the USPS knows how I feel about them and won’t deliver it anyway.

Finally, I staggered to the barcalounger and turn on the tube. Much as I love my TIVO and satellite system, it is nearly impossible to actually find anything but movies and shopping channels. Curious as I was about the election, I went to bed without much knowledge about who was winning. I spent the next three days in bed even sicker than that much slandered dog. I didn’t really care how the election was going or where my “provisional” ballot was.

I’m a bit better now. I’m back at work and I know the election results. All I can say is that I’m glad it’s over and I don’t care if I never see another campaign ad or hear the results of another poll.

But, I think I’m going to go register to vote absentee. A friend of mine was registered to vote absentee and they sent him two ballots.

God bless America!

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