Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I'm always struck by the chaos at my local polling site. Usually, I'm the only voter, and this creates quite a flurry for the four or five volunteers. The city has consolidated sites and of course, there's more interest this year, so it was exciting to see fellow voters.

The site is in an elementary school, but they changed the room location within the school. I wandered about looking for signs, backtracked and found the tiniest ballpoint scrawl "vote" with an arrow. Maybe spring for some markers next year?

I find the room. Every voter must wait to be individually greeted, because there are no signs anywhere in the polling site. No indication of where to, or if to, form lines. It takes some time and observation to figure what to do.

Turns out the first person/table we are to go to (she keeps having to get up and physically lead people over to her table because it's the furthest from the entry) checks to see if we're on her list No one is. She says, "you're not on my list". "So which table do I go to?" "That one". "Can I start a line?" (I ask because the arrangement doesn't allow space for both a line and for more voters to enter the room). "yes". I try to form a workable line. I watch as the next person goes through the same process. Only instead of a wave, he gets led over to the line I have now formed. Apparently I have made a difference.

This entire time, the dialogue at my current table has been filling the room. Several elderly people have gone through, and each time must be must asked "Democrat or Republican". The voters can't hear her. She repeats 2-3 times, progressively louder. By the time she shouts this rather private question, there's an awkward moment when the entire room now listens for their answer. They are visibly disturbed.

She had to shout it so loudly to the guy in front of me, that she chuckled a bit. He became very irate and said "I don't see what's so funny about that". He refused to answer. Then finally mumbled something. Once again I think of a big bold marker and some card stock.

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