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11/07/2006 - 7:16 p.m.

ELECTION DAY

If I ever have another morning at a polling place like today, I'm changing my last name. I got to the polls just as they opened and there were two lines. One line, my line, was for people with last names from A-L. The other line, the short line, was for people with last names from M-Z. The poll workers decided to time how long voting was taking. The poll workers at my polling place are very intelligent. They wanted good publicity so they used a "tried and true method." They said that they would time the next person who came in. Random, you know. So what line did he get into? Well, HIS last name began with something between M-Z. The official time to vote in my busy polling place: 15 minutes. My time: 45 minutes.

To be fair, almost five minutes was not the fault of the line. I had the bad luck to get behind a gentleman who wanted to vote but had moved apartments. The poll workers were willing to let him vote as he had the right verification with him. One little catch: they wanted him to fill out the change of address form first. "You mean you're not going to let me vote?" he asked. "I've been voting here for years." "Yes," they explained. "We will let you vote---as soon as you fill out this change of address form." "But I never had to do that before and I've always voted here.," he complained. "Yes, sir," they patiently explained. "But you've never voted after you have moved before." The man was not satisfied.

So, the line waited while the poll workers called over someone overseeing the polling place. I know she works at the village hall. She patiently explained again. Yes, he could vote as long as he filled out a change of address form. She was willing to be flexible. He could get a ballot and fill out the change of address form while waiting for a place to fill out his ballot. He could do it leaning against the table where they were giving out ballots. "But there must be some mistake," he insisted. "I've never had to fill out a blue form to vote before…." Eventually (although I am not sure how), the woman overseeing the poll got across to him that, like it or not, he would have to fill out a blue form if he wanted to vote. The whole line, or at least that part near enough to the front to be able to hear what was going on, breathed a sigh of relief.

Friends have suggested to me that they would not be willing to wait that long to vote. Me, I would do it again—although I'd prefer not to do so. I truly believe that those who do not vote give up their right to complain. If not for that, I might be tempted.

Give up my right to complain? Not on your life. I'm voting—even if it takes a full hour next time. And if you want to complain at me about politics, I suggest you vote too.

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