No sticker this year, so I’ll have to put it on my blog instead. Since I’ve asked students in my class to blog their voting experience, I figured I should tell you about mine.
I nearly didn’t vote. The cost in time to vote is, in the best of circumstances, fairly large given the impact one person has, but this is especially true in New York. Last presidential election, I was in a state where the outcome was a little less clear. New York deep, deep blue. In fact, those overseeing the election think numbers won’t be up from 4 years ago because some feeling of certainty. I had planned to get up first thing and go to vote this morning, but I was up late fighting with a submission to ICA (which ended up not being finished), and so I didn’t get going until around 8:00am, and had to choose between getting a parking spot at school and going to vote. I had expected serious lines at that hour, but there were no lines: I was in and out in about five minutes. And now I’ve counted my vote. When they show the numbers of actual votes (which, to my mind, still means more symbolically than does the electoral college), I’ll see my little contribution in all the right places.
My polling place was the community center down the road. The parking lot was a busy, and half the drivers were over 60, so that was a bit scary. But after parking I went inside and followed the signs to the voting rooms. I already knew what district I was in (my wife asked a neighbor yesterday), so I knew just where to go. But if I hadn’t known, there were people there to tell me, and a map to locate my house to find out. My wife and I told the first person our names, and she wrote them down. The next person located us on the rolls and had us sign in. We then went to the single voting booth.
We use the soon-to-be-extinct lever-type voting machines throughout western New York. The person in front of me, I think, had a little trouble escaping (you pull the big red lever you used to start the process). I had considered taking a picture of the process, but when I woke up I realized that my camera needed charged, so no pics from me. Luckily mamamusings did manage to get a shot.
I have to say, I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t think about the simple mechanics of voting issue earlier. There will be a record number of new voters this year, and many of them are indeed uneasy about looking dumb in front of poll workers. The board of elections have their hands full with questions about how to vote. I want to reiterate that the poll workers will love you if you ask for help. They live for that. Really. They aren’t there for the cash: they would rather help you out then stand around all day looking bored. But for the next time around, some of us with web skills and digital cameras need to put together a bunch of “voting simulators” to guide people through the process of signing in and casting their ballot. (If any MI students want to do this as an independent study for next semester, talk to me ASAP.)
The process is really not very complex. You step up to the machine, move the red lever from the left to the right. This closes the curtains behind you and starts the process. You then pull the levers to choose who you want to vote for in each position. The parties run down the left side of the machine, and the positions across the top. So, you go from left to right, indicating who you want for each position. I voted Democratic for most of the races, with the exception of a couple of local Green & Independent candidates.
I was disappointed to find that my wife and I seemed to be the youngest people there. That might just be our neighborhood, which has a fairly large number of retirees. There are also a number of young families, and it might have been that 8:15 is kid-dropping time — I don’t know.
I’ll be keeping an eye on the exit polling through the day. I suspect it all comes down to the new voters, who have been largely ignored by the polls. If they come out for Kerry — and I suspect they will — we’ll have a new and improved president.
Updated update: Lots of pictures of people voting here.