Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Georgia Early Voting Experience

I felt okay this morning (not great, but no longer ill) but since I had been robbed of one of my weekend days and Georgia had opened its polls for early voting, I decided to take a day’s vacation to sleep late, relax, and vote. This year marks Georgia’s first attempt at early voting, so I felt a little worried since most processes are riddled with inefficiencies during the first attempt (smart people learn from these errors; governments and corporations repeat them as long as possible). A man interviewed on Monday night’s news claimed “It took a half hour, but it was worth it.” Anyone around here who has ever shopped at K- and/or Wal-Mart has done at least half that much time trying to give them your money, so it didn’t sound too arduous to me. And so…
- 8:00 AM
Woke up, called in sick (which comes from my vacation time), and went back to bed.
- 9:00 AM
Woke up, decided it was still too early, and went back to bed.
- 10:00 AM
Woke up, showered, and dressed. I resisted the urge to wear my Harley-Davidson boots and Drop Dead t-shirt, instead going with a casual/conservative green pullover v-neck, blue jeans, and white sneakers.
- 10:30 AM
Arrived at the public library, two blocks away from the Board of Elections and Registration (normal voting is at the local senior center – see if you can spot the mild irony in this later). Checked out The Big Blow (Joe R. Lansdale), King Solomon’s Mines (H. Rider Haggard), and One for the Money and Full House (Janet Evanovich). I took the last one with me as I walked to the voting place.
- 10:45 AM
One of my super powers (the flawless ability to recognize a nuisance from a half-mile away – the one that let’s me spot in the grocery parking lot which person behind whom I’ll be trapped in the checkout lane as they try to write a blank check for cash with no ID other than the name tag on their shirt) kicked in before rounding the last corner. Some Poor Fat Woman (PFW) crossed the street ahead of me, puffing and using every sign, fence post, and parked car to steady herself, and joined the long line of early voters waiting to get inside the building. My spider super sense kicked in again as I entered the line and spotted a young man approaching from another direction who filed in behind me.
- 11:00 AM
A County Worker (CoW) passed out enormous sample ballots, which most people used as sun shields. I surveyed the line, noticing that the vast majority appeared to be white people over the age of fifty (draw your own conclusions). The severely aged/impaired were escorted directly into the building, but nobody said just how old you had to be to earn that perk.
Many of my fellow voters had dressed for the event, stopping short of full formal wear. Part of me wished I had gone with the Drop Dead ensemble, but my pragmatic side longed for beach attire and a cooler packed with ice, sodas, and maybe some sandwiches. If anyone had thought to setup a lemonade stand, they would have made a fortune.
- 11:15 AM
Read enough of Full House to realize it was a romance novel. Ick.
The PFW continued to struggle up the sidewalk, sweating profusely, gasping for breath, and handing out buttons while trying to convince everyone around her to vote for Kerry.
NOTE TO THE PFW – You probably didn’t advance his cause.
In the meantime, the guy behind me demonstrated his preference for the European view of personal space which practically involves standing on the heels of the person in front of you. He did not smell good. Neither did the PFW. Neither did I, for that matter. Deodorant is a poor defense against the Georgia sun (we have our own, and it doesn’t play nice).
- 11:30 AM
In the proud tradition of amusement park signs, a CoW told us that we had a thirty minute wait from our current point. People with real jobs left the line. My buddy behind me continued to bump into me at every passing chance, and ignored all the signals I sent asking for a little room (shrugging my shoulders as if shooing a fly when we contacted, dirty looks, frequent attempts to move away from him). I thought about turning and just telling him to back off, but I didn’t want this post to be another one of my brushes with the law. Anybody who knows me wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I was arrested while attempting to vote.
- 12:00 PM
I was given a form to fill out that asked the exact same questions as the voter registration form I completed in September. The supervising CoW made a joke about leaving for lunch. Nobody laughed. By now my shirt and hair were soaked with sweat, and I considered making an excuse for a write-in vote.
A young man with a shaved head exited the building, wearing black clothing with an “I’m a Georgia Voter” peach sticker stuck to his shirt. Naturally the older generation nodded their approval, proud that some young Americans had not fallen prey to apathy and, despite their celebrated differences, still participated in demah ha ha ha ha. Okay, seriously, many geezers made a big display of shaking their heads and clucking their tongues in disapproval. One spoke for the crowd, saying “Wrong building, wrong line, boy.”
NOTE TO OLD PEOPLE – Fuck you. Enjoy what political and economic potency you have left. In a few short years, you’ll be sitting in a retirement home watching daytime TV, eating lime Jell-O, and wondering why your children never bother to call or visit.
- 12:15 PM
Another random CoW informed us that the thirty minute wait (actually forty-five) was just to get near the front doors, and we should expect another forty minutes from our current position. The PFW was reeling, clutching everything she could for support. I scanned the area for emergency personnel, preparing for the moment when she dropped (it seemed inevitable).
We entered the building, which was almost as hot as outside despite the mobile air conditioning units in place. A sign at the front desk said “No Public Restrooms.” The air was redolent with voter sweat, and sun shields turned into paper fans. At least we were out of direct sunlight, and there were more things for the PFW to lean on.
- 12:25 PM
Reached the first and only water fountain to be seen. It was covered with masking tape and a sign reading “Out of Order.”
- 12:40 PM
Another sign, shaped like a construction-site warning but painted boiling red, commanded “No Campaigning!” They didn’t have to worry about the PFW, who had taken on the waxy and half-lidded expression of a newly rendered corpse and was using all her air to remain upright. A CoW told us to have our ID’s ready for when we reached the windows ahead.
- 12:55 PM
Finally reached the windows ahead, which comprised the bottleneck in the joint (only half of the voting machines were in use). I gave my driver’s license, voter’s registration card, and new piece of paperwork that had the same information as my voter’s registration card to a CoW who laboriously copied information into her computer and onto handwritten sheets. She produced yet another piece of paperwork for me to fill out, this one having no noticeable value (it was a statement certifying that I lived in the county for which I was voting, same as my other registration forms). I was given something that looked like a yellow credit card that I was told to plug into an ATM a voting machine.
- 1:15 PM
Began actual voting.
- 1:16 PM
Finished voting. Returned yellow credit card and received my peach sticker proudly proclaiming I voted when I was reportedly home sick. Did not wear sticker.
- 1:17 PM
Stumbled outside, nearly dehydrated and soaked with sweat. I could tell from my shadow that my hair was trying to escape to a better climate. The CoWs had a final treat awaiting – a wicker basket full of suckers. I wondered if they were trying to tell me something.

I’m also beginning to wonder if we were a tad hasty about getting rid of the King all those years ago. After today, I could handle living under a monarchy. I’ll take the first lifetime – any other interested parties can put their name on the sign-up sheet in the comments section.

In case you’re wondering, I voted for Dave Barry. I did my part for this country, and now it’s your turn. If he’s not elected, I will have to assume it’s because the rest of you are a bunch of cowardly traitorous dogs. I know where you live! I will track you down and kill the heck out of you! Or perhaps not. But can you really afford to take the chance?
Patriotic, out


the phantom said...

grant, that has to be the most entertaining entry i have ever read on any blog. sorry to take a little joy from your pain. thanks for the belly laughs.

Rys said...

I agree with the Phantom - definitely one of your best works.