Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I Voted !
For those out of the country, this isn't simply a presidential election. We also vote for this year for one federal Senator, every two years we elect a member to the federal House of Representatives, and this year, because of redistricting after the 2010, we elect all members of the state legislature. Thus one needs a ballot for the right geographical location. One can vote absentee in Minnesota with a VALID excuse such as that's the day I'm having surgery. Otherwise we are not an early voting state.
CNN has a nice page today about election riddles and I learned there that the first Tuesday of November is a chosen date, for reasons we somewhat no longer need. Tuesday was picked because one could worship on Sunday and then use Monday to travel to the election location by horseback or horse carriage. November was picked because the agricultural harvest season is over, and the weather is not usually troublesome and brutal in early November.
My voting place is the Salvation Army building on West Seventh Street in Saint Paul. I've been voting there since I moved to my location along the Mississippi River, but this is the first presidential election. Always before the voting location was a small classroom. This year the voting place is the gymnasium (for those of you in Europe, think of a place one would play basketball, not a type of school).
I waited in a line of 6-7 people to get my name checked on the registration list. Then I waited in a line of about the same size to get a ballot.
In Minnesota we use a paper ballot. It has circles in front of the candidates' names. One uses a special pen to fill in the circle. When done, one takes the ballot to a scantron machine and insert it yourself. Thus we don't have the Florida problem of "handing chads" nor the problem in some states where it is alleged that one of Romney's kids owns the company providing the voting machines. The machine counts the votes, but there is always a paper copy that can be counted and examined if a recount is necessary. (And I surely can't fault the forefathers for not anticipating that kind of problem when the Constitution and Bill of Rights was prepared!)
A polling place is staffed with election judges. These are volunteers representing various political parties, but of course, they don't disclose their political preference when working. The variety is maintained to reduce allegations of inappropriate pressure on voters. All simply wore a name badge with their first name and a title, Election Official.
Because of the number of people wishing to vote, I was offered the option of going into the bleacher seating area with my ballot, clipboard and pen if I felt comfortable. That was fine with me. Had more privacy there than in the closely placed voting booths. I marked my ballot and then walked over and inserted it in the machine. I turned to return the clipboard and pen to the table where I received them, but was interrupted by another election official who said he would trade me the I Vote sticker for the clipboard and pen. He handed me the sticker and then dropped the clipboard and it shattered on the floor into about six pieces. So if for nothing else I'll remember this election for the shattered clipboard. Truly that's never happened before when I voted!