Adventures In Early Voting

Today, it’s up early and off to the local branch of the pubic library to exercise my franchise as an American citizen to vote (early, but not often) for, among other things, the next President of the United States.

I’ve been planning on voting early for over a week, but every time I’ve driven over to the library, the line of people waiting to vote has extended out of the main entrance and snaked along the sidewalks leading to the parking lot.

It sort of defeats the whole purpose of voting early if you have to stand in line to do so. Not to be deterred, I’ve decided to circumvent the need to stand in line by being at the library before the polls open this morning.

I just pulled in to the library parking lot. It’s 6:30 a.m. and not surprisingly, I am not alone. There are already six or seven other cars here.

In the predawn gloom, I can see shadowy figures nursing steaming cups of coffee. I decided against coffee this morning just in case there might be any delay in getting into the voting booth. Standing in line in 42 degree weather after drinking a big cup of coffee doesn’t appeal to me at the moment. Well to be honest, at my ever advancing age, the consumption of java leads fairly quickly to the desire to find a restroom. A situation I’m inclined to avoid until my votes are cast.

It’s now 6:45 a.m. and I’m beginning to see folks headed toward the library entrance. Time to move out. I’m a little surprised to find that there are already about 20 people ahead of me in the line. I’m not sure where these guys were when I drove past this door a few minutes ago, but I’m glad that I didn’t linger any longer in my car.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s 42 degrees this morning, but I failed to point out that there is also a 20 mile per hour zephyr continually blowing across the front of the library. To make matters worse, a 20-something couple just walked up behind me. That in itself doesn’t pose a problem. They might even provide a small wind break if I can get them positioned properly. The concern is that the guy is dressed only in a t-shirt and cargo shorts.

My worst fears have just been realized. “Whiney-Man“, for that is what I’ve just named the t-shirt and cargo short clad individual sniveling behind me, has started to complain. “I’m cold! Why is it so cold? Why don’t they open the doors? I don’t like this!” Ad infinitum, ad nauseum. And there’s still15 minutes to go before the doors will open. Give me strength!

It’s now 6:59 a.m. The poll supervisor has been standing, warm and cozy, just inside the library’s double doors for the last few minutes smiling out at us as he watches the time display on his iPhone. Obviously, he’s operating under strict instructions that the doors must not be opened until exactly 7:00 a.m.

What’s he doing? Why doesn’t he open the door? This isn’t fair! I’m cold! Why is it so cold?

Yes! Thankfully, the doors have finally swung open and I’m headed down the hall to the room where we will be allowed to vote. There’s nothing more to do but show my ID, sign the necessary document avowing that I am who I am, obtain the card that actuates the electronic voting panel, and cast my votes.

Okay, I’ve proceeded to position #2 at the first table and handed my driver’s license to the very cordial lady sitting here behind the computer. I mentioned that she is very cordial, but I may have failed to point out that she is also very slow. Glacial is far too rapid a term to apply. As I’ve been standing here waiting for her to confirm my reality, the ladies staffing positions #1 and #3 have each confirmed and ushered four other voters on to the next stop in the process.

30 or 40 key-clicks and two or three mouse actuations later, I’ve received the form needed at the next station and I’m about to receive my voting booth card.

I’ve made it to the voting booth, if you can call it that. I miss the old days when you actually stepped into a booth, pulled a lever, and the curtains closed behind you. These days, privacy is only ensured by the small panels which somewhat block the view of those voting at the computer terminals on either side of you. Actually, I’d be happy to tell anyone who wants to know how I voted, but I understand the need for secret ballots.

I was a little surprised at the short length of the ballot this time around. There were not that many offices being contested and only two local initiatives to be decided. I worked my way down through the ballot relatively quickly, checked the appropriate boxes, confirmed my selections, and submitted my ballot.

Now it’s time for me to head home and put my hands around that big ol’ steaming mug of Joe that’s awaiting my return. Hopefully, Whiney Man had no major issues with casting his ballot and is on his way home to find some long pants and, perhaps, his misplaced common sense.

May God bless and protect our representative democracy, our right to vote, and the greatest nation on the face of the Earth – the United States of America!

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