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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

Voting early was on my list of things to do, but given the length and variety of that list, I never managed to complete that particular task. When I learned yesterday that early voting continued through noon, I walked around to the other side of our "high-rise" office building to take a peek down at the City-County Building. To my dismay, but as I suspected, the last-day-for-early-voting line snaked out the building and around the corner. I resigned myself to voting on, of all things, election day.

My big plan was to get to my polling site at 5:30am. My snooze button had other plans, and I left the house shortly before 6am. About a half a mile out from the school where I vote, traffic was almost at a standstill - not a good sign. I KNEW I should have arrived earlier. I waited patiently in the line of cars as motorists from opposite directions slowly but surely alternated making the turn onto the road by the school.

I tend to follow directions, and the crowd, but this morning my fear that I would have an extremely long wait got the better of me. Instead of waiting in the line of cars being directed to seemingly nonexistent spots, I turned into the front lot, past the "do not enter" sign, and created a parking spot along the side of the lot near the grass. I trekked around the school to the line of voters...hundreds of people were lined up in the dark, waiting to vote.

I joined the line, which was initially moving at a decent pace. Eventually a poll worker came along and announced that there were 2 lines. My polling place serves 4 precincts; there was a very long line for 2 of them, and a much shorter line for the other 2. Although I've voted at that location at least twice before, I had no idea which was my precinct. After getting a glimpse of the super short alternate line, I got on the phone and dialed 327-VOTE. I was on hold for less than 5 minutes and a very efficient person on the other end asked my name and provided me with my precinct number.

Feeling like I'd been told to pass go and collect $200, I practically skipped up to the shorter line, which soon got me inside the school building, where it was much warmer. My wait outside had been approximately 30 minutes. Unfortunately, once inside, the pace slowed. In fact, my line to "check in" was effectively not moving - someone likely had an issue that took the volunteers some time to handle. While waiting, I introduced myself to some folks from my neighborhood that I recognized from trick-or-treating.

We soon realized we were waiting to check in, and that once we had, we would have to get in another growing line to get our ballots and vote. For all the poll workers/volunteers milling about, no one seemed to realize that the line to vote was growing, and the space to accommodate it was not. Directionless voters were creating a "line" that doubled back on itself, was mixing with the line of those still waiting to check in, and was causing those who had already voted to have difficulty leaving the building. I finally took some action and after making a few innocent suggestions to a couple of poll workers, they swung the line around and created a little breathing room for voters and would-be voters.

The issue holding up my line got resolved, and I checked in without incident. While I waited in the voting line, an official looking man in a suit came in and, reading from a piece of white paper, loudly announced: If you own a red BMW with license plate blah-blah it is about to be towed. I don't own a red BMW, but I could tell by the direction he gestured that the car in question was parked near mine. Then I saw that on the back of his paper someone had scrawled "Blue VW Jetta," along with the first 3 digits of my license plate, and that the information had been crossed out! I feared my car was already gone. I approached him, and he assured me my car was still parked, but that school buses would be arriving in approximately 15 minutes and I needed to move my car. We sized up the line and decided I likely had time to vote. I'd now been waiting over an hour and didn't want to start over again, so I took my chances.

I voted, got my sticker, reached my car before it was towed away, and made it to work by 8am. Success. Happy voting!


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