Democracy At Work…

November 3, 2008 § 1 Comment

So I voted today after going through a crazy ordeal to obtain an absentee ballot because I’ll be working the polls outside of my voting district tomorrow.

Here’s the whole crazy story. At the end of September, I applied to work the polls in my county on election day. It pays $200 for the day and I’ll be doing my part to stop voter fraud, so I thought, "Why not?" I faxed in my application and got a letter in the mail about a week later with the date for a mandatory training session to learn how to open and close the polls. The officials who gave the training told us prospective poll workers to expect our assignments in the mail should we be chosen to work on election day. We also filled out a form with our contact info in case they didn’t have an opening for us until the last minute. I filled out my form and specified that I could be contacted to work up until the day before the election. We were all encouraged to apply for absentee ballots, as it was likely that we’d be working outside our voting districts and probably wouldn’t have enough time to vote in our home districts over the hour-long break we’ll be allotted.

Fast-forward to last week, when the Election Board called my house to say they didn’t need me. I hadn’t bothered to apply for an absentee ballot, because I didn’t want to vote absentee if I didn’t have to. Something about voting in an actual booth makes it all feel more official. I was bummed at the loss of my potential $200 pay check as well as the loss of a pretty cool experience. I was happy that I didn’t have to vote absentee, though.

Fast-forward again to today, in the middle of my late-afternoon naptime after a hard day of filling out job applications at every Barnes & Noble Bookstore in a 20-mile radius of my house. I was in the middle of some half-lucid dream when the phone rang. It was the Election Board calling to ask if I was still interested in working tomorrow. I answered with a "Hells yes!", wrote down the address of the polling place which is only one town away from my own, and took a drive to make sure I could find the place before I set out to start my day at 5:15 a.m. tomorrow. I left my house at 3:45 p.m. and found the polling place a little after 4:00. While I was out, I remembered that today was the cut-off for obtaining absentee ballots, so I took a short drive to the county courthouse to get my ballot and vote so I wouldn’t have to stress about getting it done over my break tomorrow.

I got to the courthouse at about 4:30, only to be told by a security guard that the cut-off for obtaining an absentee ballot was at 3:00 this afternoon. I’d have to head up to the 7th floor to see a judge to be approved for a ballot. That’s right. I had to see the judge who had the state attorney general on speakerphone to verify that I was a registered voter and approve my need to vote absentee since I had missed the deadline by an hour and a half. Everything checked out after the attorney general’s office had fits with the spelling of my name (I heard them talking in the background over the speaker phone: "There’s no Rebecca listed? Try it with one ‘c’?" Then, "Can you spell your first name for us?" After which the attorney general joked that he had to give me a demerit for not spelling my difficult name for them earlier. "This is going on your permanent record!"). The judge sent me back down to the county clerk’s office to fill out an absentee ballot application which I then had to bring back up to him to receive a court order which I then had to bring to the clerk’s office along with my application so I could finally receive my ballot, which I promptly filled out in the privacy of the empty ladies’ room and dropped off at the Board of Elections in the building next door.

And that’s the story of how I voted early. See you at the polls tomorrow!

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§ One Response to Democracy At Work…

  • wow, that is quite a voter experience. I, alas, was not able to obtain my ballot in time from PA, being in NC, and the whole chaos of moving and job-finding and wedding-planning, and wedding postponing, all led up to basically me not getting my ballot in.
    Are you NaNo-ing this year?

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