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Feeling Nostalgic? The archives > The Voting Experience: Comment as the Returns Come In...Post Election Commentary...

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments What's the voting experience like for you?

I live in a city of about 10,000, and I vote in our city hall. I walk up the stairs and then walk up to a row of elderly ladies, all of whom look very official and intimidating. I try to estimate which one will have my name (they're organized alphabetically, and I'm near the end of the row) and eventually find the woman who looks up my name and crosses it out when she hands me a ballot. We don't do electronic ballot machines here, or at least not the kind on which you push buttons on a screen. Instead we go to the little booths and use a permanent black marker on the ballot. I always worry that I'm going to overfill the little black circles, so I'm careful. They always have the same black markers. I wonder if they save them from election to election. Then I feed the ballot into what I assume is a ballot-counting machine. You can see how many ballots have been cast from a machine printout.

I've never had to wait more than a few minutes to vote. Maybe this year will be different. The weather tomorrow morning is supposed to be in the mid-fifties, little chance of rain, so waiting outside shouldn't be that bad.


message 2: by Dan (new)

Dan (akagunslinger) I like in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. The old ladies (part of the secret old lady poll worker conspiracy, no doubt) are split into two sections: A-M and N-Z. I step into the second line and direct the woman to the S's. I always spot my name before Hazel (or Mildred or whomever) sees it but she still has to read every line before she gets to my name despite my telling her that it's the third from the bottom. I take the card into the booth and punch out the hole next to the candidate and throw it in the kettle with the slot cut in the lid when I'm finished.

shellyindallas I thought electronic machines were everywhere? We have them here, and what's the point in putting them in TX? The Republicans don't have to rig the election here!

There were two weeks of early voting here, the 13th through the 31st, and I voted on the 14th at the grocery store by my work. At that point, lines hadn't become an issue yet. Well, that and I voted at 7 in the morning right when they opened. It would've been a lot speedier had there not been so many old folks. I know I'm going to be one (old person) some day (I hope), but damn if their pokiness doesn't irritate me. I voted on an electronic machine, same as 2004, only this time on the final page where it list every candidate/proposition you voted for so you can double check it, it did NOT tell me I voted for the Republican candidate for pres. (voted for Kerry in '04, machine told me I voted for Bush, was able to go back and change vote).
Still, we don't get paper receipts here so who knows what I really voted for. McCain's ahead in TX by double digits though, so if the machine fucks up I don't think it'll matter much anyway.

Books Ring Mah Bell We vote at a church right down the street. There are two precincts that vote there and that means mass confusion for the general population. (!) We also have the very intimidating little old ladies-they often look confused as well.

I go in, help them find my name, they highlight it, give me a ballot and I go punch holes in it. Yep. PUNCH holes.

I'm not sure I could vote with a touch screen. (yes, I know it's coming) Freaking technology.

I feed my ballot into the machine and some nice AARP member hands me a sticker that says "I Voted!"

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't think Oregon even has polling stations, anymore. We have mail-in ballots. You can mail them in or drop them off at the library. I voted weeks ago.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Maybe it's just Multnomah County and not all of Oregon. I dunno.

message 7: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments Mobile's population is almost 200K, so I guess that makes us a medium-sized city? My polling station is the community rec center a couple blocks from my house. This location also serves one of the mostly black neighborhoods in Mobile (which my 3/4-gentrified neighborhood runs into) and there has been a tremendous effort with the Obama campaign to get more black folks registered and out to the polls (I will be participating in that effort tomorrow, in fact, as a driver!), and there is an amazing energy in the black community right now about Obama, so I anticipate a LONG wait (but I will be smiling proudly the whole time as I look around me!) when I go to vote. I can't decide if I should try to get it done first thing or wait till later in the day... There's no early voting in Alabama, so it's gonna be a mess all day probably.

We use the scantron things for ballots. And no paper trail either. WHY would a politician be against a paper trial? There's NO good reason not to support it unless you want there not to be a way to verify votes, which means you want to be able to rig the election. Fucking assholes!

message 8: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 347 comments Montambo, all of Oregon has 100% mail-in voting. It's why Oregon has consistently had the highest voter turnout in the nation. I hope that one day the entire country will have standard mail-in ballots. I vote absentee beforehand because I tend to volunteer as a poll watcher on election day (and I have absolutely no patience at all for standing in line, ever).

Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments I used to go to the church a couple of blocks away, and do the punching holes in a card thing, and I loved it. I loved seeing all the retired folks working as volunteers, and seeing my neighbors.
I loved getting the "I Voted" sticker", and sometimes there was cookies and apple juice. It felt so civic and old-fashioned, it made me happy.

But no longer. Those days are gone. Now my county is vote-by-mail only. Last night, I opened up my ballot envelope, and filled in bubbles with a dark ink pen at my kitchen table, surrounded by voters' guides and the newspaper section that had information on the initiatives.
Then I drove my ballot over to the drop box at the fire station, in the dark and rainy night. It's just not the same.

message 10: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Do you guys trust the mail-in thing? What if it gets lost in the mail or whatever? I mean, I guess anyone's ballot could be lost, but you know what I mean.

message 11: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 347 comments Personally, I have more faith in my mail carrier than I do in a voting machine. Besides, in states like OR or WA they offer ballot drop boxes at secure locations for delivery.

Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments I didn't mail my ballot, I put it into a ballot drop box, RA. It will go directly to the local election office that way.
Because I'd rather NOT rely on the Post Office to get my ballot post-marked by Tuesday.

I DO trust my local election officials. Our Secretary of State, Sam Reid, proved his competence and integrity four years ago, during our super close governor's race. Chris Gregoire won by only 129 votes over Dino Rossi.

message 13: by Lori (new)

Lori Yep, Sam Reid got my vote 4 years ago, and got it again this year. So no one tell me I vote strictly along party lines!

I agree, mail-in is not the same. I loved going to the booth. But a few years ago I opted for absentee, just for the elections during the year where I might not be so motivated to get to the church. I thought I could have a choice, but 2 years ago I tried to vote at the booth, and was told once mail-in, only mail-in.

message 14: by Chloe (new)

Chloe (countessofblooms) | 347 comments I think that Washington state is due to be completely mail-in by 2010. As it stands now I think that 80% of the state is signed up for mail-in already.

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I dropped mine into a locked box at the library.

message 16: by Gåry! (new)

Gåry! (garyneill) It would be nice if there were some way to confirm my vote now... I voted on the 24th and I know the machine showed me who I voted for and it was correct, but it would be NICE if I could've gotten a print-out OR - at least - have some way to verify my vote days later.

All in all (where the hell did that saying come from?) the experience was smooth and uneventful IF somewhat futile in the great red state of Texas.

message 17: by Sheila (last edited Nov 04, 2008 05:46AM) (new)

Sheila Ha. Fifteen minutes flat. :)

Although my husband did note to me (this was his first time voting in our district) that the ballot clearly states that blue or black ink ONLY is to be used, and here we were using our #2 leaded pencils (as directed) on them instead.

Just out of curiosity - did everyone have to show picture ID?

message 18: by RandomAnthony (last edited Nov 04, 2008 06:30AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I voted this morning already too, Sheila! I didn't have to show a picture ID.

I arrived at the polling place at 6:15AM and discovered I was second in line. An older woman with long grey hair was in front of me. By 6:30AM about ten people were in line. I read and listened to NPR until 6:50AM, then talked with the woman in front of me...she was a teacher worried about making it to work on time. Word came that the line stretched around the block and included approximately 150 people. When the doors opened I realized I didn't remember in what ward I lived but I quickly figured it out and voted...there weren't many races in my area, so I hit the "straight democratic ticket" box with the black marker, slid my ballot in the machine, and headed out past the line. No "I voted" sticker, unfortunately.

I get the feeling my students are going to be distracted today...I'm planning on giving them group work and the like. They don't want to hear my talk.

Tim (Mole) The Gunslinger (Mole) Gettin ready to go waiting on the wife!I did drive by earlier and it looks like it isnt busy!But I live in a town of 12000 and theres like 5-6 places to vote! so it should be quick!

message 20: by Sheila (new)

Sheila No sticker for me either, RA. Damn them. :P

message 21: by Kirk (new)

Kirk | 154 comments I had to drive about 10 miles to the polling station. Along the way I saw two other voting places, so I'm not sure how these precincts were drawn up. So I go to the Pike Road Volunteer Fire Station. Got there about 6:30 and there was a line all the way down the road past a farm. It took about an hour. I had a paper ballot, too, which was weird, and I had to show a photo ID. But I did get a sticker---whohoo!!!

Books Ring Mah Bell Got there just after 9 am, I was in and out in 10 minutes... yes, I had to show my i.d.

Our local news crew was there.
The excitement was... awesome. Really awesome. Electric atmosphere!

The church where we vote had coffee and cookies/doughnuts... very nice. cozy.

message 23: by Meen (last edited Nov 04, 2008 08:45AM) (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments I got a sticker!

Hey, did y'all know if you go to any Starbucks today and say you voted (even without the sticker apparently) you get a free small (is that tall?) coffe. I was gonna take the little old lady I took to the polls, but she was very frail and I don't think she coulda handled Starbucks. (Shit, I can't really handle Starbucks.) I'm in Alabama like Kirk, so it was paper ballots. And Alabama has the most INSANE Constitution in the country. I had to read these proposed Amendments to Mrs. Helen and then I had to go back and try to explain what they actually MEANT. (And I'm still not sure I got them all right.)

message 24: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments I voted today. I was prepared with my MP3 player and book... and flip flops in case the line was horrendous. It wasn't, though. Precinct 93 had NO lines. I was in and out in less than 5 minutes. :)

message 25: by Gus (last edited Nov 04, 2008 11:46AM) (new)

Gus Sanchez (gussanchez) Took me 2 1/2 hours (and having to survive listening to one wingnut old bird who INSISTED on voting RIGHT NOW, but then left because "we all know the n***ger is gonna win!"), but I did my civic duty and voted.

message 26: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments Yeah, I brought a book of poetry, but when I was with Mrs. Brooks I couldn't really read b/c I was carrying a chair for her in case she needed to sit down in line (and it woulda just been rude). And then when I went to my voting place, it was after 9:00AM, and there were no lines anymore.

message 27: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Holy shit Gus!

The local newspaper website is tracking lines...most of them are running about thirty minutes, it seems...

message 28: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Our early voting polls had lines that ran about 2-4 hours... that's why I waited until today. 10:30ish. Perfectly timed.

I was hoping the lines wouldn't be as long by then. I was right.

For the record, Precinct 93 is the first one I've ever been to that doesn't have long lines. I voted there during the primaries, too. In and out back then, too.

I like my new precinct. I think it's obscure enough that people aren't crowding it. Some of the others that I've seen, though, have lines going out the door and around the block.

message 29: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Ok...I know it's early..but...doesn't it look Obama's not doing so hot?

shellyindallas It IS too early to tell. I'm starting to get sick to my stomach, though. My nerves! I can't take it!!

message 31: by Lori (new)

Lori RA - I knew I shouldn't but I've been watching the polls for 2 weeks now, watching McCain go up and Obama go down. *sob* I've been very nervous.

I want the results NOW so I know whether to be very depressed or celebrate.

message 32: by RandomAnthony (last edited Nov 04, 2008 05:01PM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Ok...CNN just gave Obama a shitload of electoral votes...Jesus, is this going to go on all night? It is hard, I agree, Lori...

message 33: by Gåry! (new)

Gåry! (garyneill) That 8-3 was not looking good, but things are looking up...

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Obama has 77 and McCain has 34.

message 35: by Gåry! (new)

Gåry! (garyneill) While a landslide would be beautiful, I think it's still going to be a rollercoaster all night... huge gains willl be met by measured catching up here and there.

Ain't over 'til it's over.

I will remain concerned until the magic 270 is achieved.

message 36: by RandomAnthony (last edited Nov 04, 2008 05:40PM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments CNN just projected Pennsylvania for Obama!

message 37: by Dave (new)

Dave Russell My prediction on electoral votes:

Obama 278
McCain 260

Tim (Mole) The Gunslinger (Mole) I voted for the 1st time today and felt wonderful!Go Obama!!!

message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

What network are you people watching (that you think things sound bad for Obama)? MSNBC has practically given the presidency to Obama already. Admittedly, they're liberal, and admittedly, that's why I watch them, but... what exactly sounds bad? All the solid blue states have gone blue, and all the solid red states have gone red...

message 40: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I'm watching CNN...

For a while early on the early returns were skewing McCain...and even if I knew it was early, it was still a bit scary. I'm with Gary, I'm not going to relax until it's official.

shellyindallas I'm watching NBC, I don't have cable but I think it's the same as MSNBC? I'm with Gary, won't feel confident until one of them hits the magic number.

NBC is so funny. Their coverage is half-election, half Tim Russert lovefest.

message 42: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments CNN says McCain will carry Alabama.

I blame Kirk.

shellyindallas Oh, and I flipped to ABC during the commercial and heard some woman from McCain's camp telling them the media is calling Penn. too soon. That they have different "internal numbers." Whatever. She also said her dad in Nevada got a good group out to vote for McCain. Well in that case!

Servius  Heiner  | 40 comments My real advice is drink heavily until morning. If your guy didn't win; then stay in bed.

message 45: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 04, 2008 06:02PM) (new)

No, NBC and MSNBC aren't the same (exactly). MSNBC has mostly liberal commentators and wears its liberalism on its sleeve.

The returns don't matter at all when they say "too close to call" because if, say, McCain seems far ahead, it means that the network knows that Obama-heavy counties have not be counted yet... or vice versa. So don't pay attention to the numbers... They're pretty meaningless...

Poor FoxNews. It sounds like a funeral over there. Check it out.

message 46: by RandomAnthony (last edited Nov 04, 2008 06:03PM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I remember there was some validity with that in Florida four years back, Shelly...please, God, not this year...

Yes, I agree with David...FoxNews is like a wake tonight...

shellyindallas TX is "too close to call." so what does that mean? On my local news it wasn't even close.

message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

Elizabeth Dole, it's time to get a real job! (Other than your husband, I mean.)

message 49: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments CNN seems to be moving on to senate races...

message 50: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Is Bob Dole still alive? I'm serious. I don't know. How embarrassing.

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