04 February 2008

Polling places

The presidential primaries have me thinking back to my first experience voting in San Francisco in 2003. If you live in one of the states holding a caucus or primary tomorrow (that includes CA), don't forget to VOTE!

And now, back to 2003...

I walked down the street and paused at the corner. The laundromat across the street was 990 Pacific. Uphill most likely. I strode on looking for 1053 Pacific. Seeing 1031, I surmised I was on the correct block and side of the street. Nothing looked out of place though. A couple of old Chinese people walked down the hill with the ubiquitous pink plastic grocery bags of Chinatown. A bit further up I saw a man in an orange vest and thought that might be it, but he was just surveying with a guy across the street.

I almost walked past it. Though I knew there weren't any on that block, I was still thinking of a large parking garage. Nope. Sloping down from the sidewalk was just someone's garage with the door open and polling staff camped out inside. A couple of long folding tables to the left and a series of portable privacy booths to the right. At the end, the vote sucking machine that looked like a photocopier.

Fumbling through my pockets, I asked what they needed from me. The man on the left finished with his pile of papers and asked for my last name. No ID, no voter registration card, nothing. Happily, I was on the list. The guy behind me was not so fortunate. This was the third polling place he'd been to and he needed to get to work.

The woman on the right handed me a ballot and told me I needed to use the marker supplied in the booth. Not really a booth. More like the anti-cheating 3-sided cardboard things they had in elementary school.

A young professional fed her ballot into the machine. The volunteer beside her told her she was number 128.

"That's it? That's all you've had?"

The old man replied, "Yup, since seven this morning."

"Well, I'm glad I voted then."

"So are we," he added cheerfully.

Maybe they would've had more if they stuck a "Vote here" sandwich board out front to draw a little more attention to themselves.

I was 129. And that was it. Not even an "I voted" sticker; I felt kind of gypped. I did get a receipt for my ballot, that was new, but I didn't know what I was supposed to do with it. I figured it would only matter if foul play was suspected.

When I got home I checked my voice mail and had a message from Martin Sheen. Recorded certainly, but there he was all the same urging me to vote No on the recall, No on 54, and Yes on Bustamante.

Just plain odd. Vote in a garage, get a message from Martin Sheen.

One year ago on TTaT: Common imprecision
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  1. In my little Western PA town, when I go to vote, it's in a fire hall, and there's a whole bunch of little old ladies, and the occasional little old man who are poll watchers. They never ask for any form of ID either.

  2. Sounds just like where I vote nowadays right down to the volunteering seniors except it's at the town hall. The old dudes really do like standing watch over the machine. ;)

    Still no ID but you do have to check in before and check out after you vote.