Monday, October 27, 2008

Got lunch: check. Got groceries: check. Helped save the country: check.

The parking lot of the tag agency was as full as I've ever seen it, and parking spilled over into an adjacent empty lot. I stood outside in line with about 40 other voters (they let about 5 into the building at a time). A woman came out from time to time and spoke to the line about what kind of ID we needed to present, what the ballot would look like and how to complete it, and to otherwise answer questions. Inside, the voting area was crowded, but efficient. Because we were using a corner of the auto tag agency, there was a long countertop, and one of the poll workers offered to let me go to an isolated section of the counter rather than to wait for a plastic "booth" that was not one bit private (as I waited to show my ID and get my ballot, I watched a woman color in her choices). I took her offer.

I was prepared. I had looked over my sample ballot in advance, researched those races and issues I didn't already know about, and had it, filled out, with me.

Although I thought I was going to have to used the dreaded touch-screen machine (as I did in 2004), I instead used a PAPER ballot, which upon completion, I put into a scanning machine, just like in the olden days. Everyone in Florida now votes on the same kind of machine -- and it involves PAPER!
...unlike 2000, there is now a clear paper trail that shows voter intent in case of a recount. Voters now use pencil or pen to mark paper ballots, which are then counted by machine. Punchcards and their chad are no more.
However, before I turned in my ballot, I TRIPLE-CHECKED to make sure that the arrow I completed said Obama-Biden. It did, I assure you.

The cynical part of me wonders if our statewide paper-rich system -- which would presumably allow for a fraud-free recount -- is the reason that John McCain's campaign is focused on Pennsylvania. I'm not the only one worried about McCain's new obsession.

While I was still outside waiting, the helpful poll worker was telling someone that the turnout had been steady. The first couple of days, about a thousand each day. The lowest turnout day was over 500. Our county has about 120,000 registered voters. Some are voting absentee; some on the big day; some won't show up at all. My early-voting site is not that big. I suspect that the larger venues have significantly more traffic. Florida has five more days of early voting: through Saturday.

It took a half hour from the time I left the car until the time I returned. I had reading material and wasn't bored.

When I returned to the car, I could see that there were still about 40 people in line. And while I live in SuperRed County, I know that I wasn't the only one to vote Obama.

I know this because of the Obama bumper stickers on the car that was in front of me as we waited to pull out of the parking lot and off to the next task in our busy lives, having done our part to try to pull this country back into sanity.


Anonymous said...

Your country thanks you, Bitty.

A half-hour; not bad. Your account of the procedure is interesting. I've always wondered how many people carried sample ballots, already marked, into the booth.

I think lots of people are being very careful with their ballots this time around.

Did you get an 'I Voted' sticker?

Bitty said...

About the marked-up sample ballot: I spent at least an hour on the phone with my daughter as I did Google-research on some of the people/issues (she was wanting feedback and info as she completed her own absentee ballot), and I'd also watched a local PBS feature that explained the proposed state constitutional amendments. So I was prepared, and it went very quickly, even though I double-checked everything I did (and triple-checked the pres. vote). I suspect that many people see these things for the first time when they show up to vote, even though all voters are mailed a sample ballot. I'll admit I've done that a few times myself. But this time I was going to be the uber (as much as possible) voter.

The real glee for me was to discover the touch-screen experiment of the last Pres. election had ended. I believe we still had them in '06, and of the two more recent elections, I handled one by absentee and missed one because I simply couldn't get to the polls in time after work. I will therefore always be an early voter from now on. (In the past, each county did its own thing regarding the machines. In 2000, Palm Beach County had the infamous butterfly punch-ballots, but we didn't. I think we had the same thing as now: a large piece of heavy-duty paper on which we completed arrows to signify our choices.)

I believe we have Charlie Crist, guv'nor, to thank for this change. He annoys me at times; at other times, like this, he's not too bad -- for a Republican.

I'm sure the lines are longer in the Big City nearby.

I did indeed get an "I Voted" sticker, but I saved it for election day (even though it says "I voted today") since no one was going to see me wear it except the cat, who cannot read and cannot vote.

kkryno said...

Another vioce for sanity has been heard! WOOT!

You should save that sticker (after you wear it, of course) and have it mounted to commemorate this historic election. It's certainly one worth remembering.

Have a nice weekend.

kkryno said...


Please don't think I'm nuts, but I hope the rest of your week is nice. I must want to get this week over and done with because I comment on three sites about having a nice or good week-end. Sheesh! They say the mind is the first to go; I guess mine is headed that way! ;)

Bitty said...

I think you want this week over because you want TUESDAY to get here.


This election is the ultimate cliffhanger.