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I voted today...barely

I haven’t posted much recently. And I don’t post much on my personal Facebook. When I do, nothing is political. That holds true for this post, too. That doesn’t mean I don’t have political views. Quite the opposite. I have pretty strong ones. I just don’t share them online. I teach a course at work, a large part of which is about communication. Do you realize that our communication is only 7% words? The rest of it is body language and vocal elements (tone of voice, pitch, etc.). All of that is lost online. So even if I disagree with you, you might not realize that I do so in a respectful and understanding way. Or if I am having a bad day, maybe just the opposite. And perhaps that is why we have ever increasing anger in our society. People so easily take offense and jump to conclusion because they don’t hear or see the rest of it.

This isn’t about my political views, just about my voting experience. I am leaving the comments open, but because I haven’t shared my political views, I would appreciate it if you would respect that and only comment on my experience. And yours, if you have had similar ones.

So this is my worrisome voter experience this morning. Of course it was very busy at 6: 15 a.m. at the elementary school, in the heart of the Midwestern US, like I am sure it has been across the rest of the country today. This is a very important, tense and challenging Presidential election for all of us. I wish I could say that voting itself was the easiest part of the process.

Considering the high voter for the last two Presidential elections, the election officials at my polling place have been very organized. This election, however, they are doing something new. Instead of the traditional method of comparing your form of ID (driver’s license, voter’s registration card, etc.), they have a new electronic scanner wherein they scan your ID, or a mailer they sent out last week with a bar code on it. This mailer had a mock ballot and included information on it that you could use it as an acceptable form of ID.

Now I have lived at my current address for 13 years. I have voted in every national, state and the majority of local elections. I have never had a problem voting in the traditional method in which my name and address appeared on the paper rolls. But today, when my driver’s license was scanned, I was informed that I could not be located in their system.  My heart dropped beyond my stomach to the bottom of my feet. So I was sent to another line. My ID was scanned again in the second line. After a few excruciating minutes, the gentleman found me in the system and then asked me if all the information on the electronic screen he presented me was correct. It wasn’t. My date of birth was wrong, so I told him. By now my heart had found its way back into my chest but it was beating so hard I thought it was going to burst through. He looked at my driver’s license for a very long time as it had my correct birthdate on it. Eventually he said he would “let me” vote. I am not sure if I was more scared at being told that I wasn’t in the system or that someone would “let me” vote after having been at the same polling place for almost half of my voting life.

But it doesn’t end there. I had chosen a paper ballot for many reasons and there was a bit of a line for that. While we were waiting, another election official started handing out ink pens and told us we could start filling out our ballots if we didn’t want to wait for a booth. The entire purpose of having a booth is so that our ballots can be cast in private, not standing in an open line with strangers next to that can see over your shoulder.

Most people did not seem to have a problem with either of these things.  I saw most of the people get through the line without having any issue with their ID being scanned and I also saw people using the mailer as well.  There were also people around me in line that started to fill out their ballots before getting to a booth. But I am flabbergasted that in one of the most important elections in my lifetime, that a new system of identifying voters would be used without seeing if there would be issues that needed to be addressed and fixed first. I am less shocked that people would give up their voting privacy given what I see online every day. We have seen things like people taking a selfie with their ballot and posting on social media during early voting. But in several places, that can invalidate your vote.

I am still nauseous about all of this. I got to vote today and I am thankful for that. I hope these types of problems are few and far in between.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 8th, 2016 06:34 pm (UTC)
Eeeeeeeeeeesh. *HUGS*

My parents and I went the first day of early voting and were among the first in line (there was one other person ahead of us). Everything was in place... but the ID scanner wasn't talking to the computer, and the computer wasn't talking to the printer, etc. Cue checking cords, turning it off and back on again, jokes about the Russians. Finally, they got enough of the system up that they could verify our IDs, take the information down by hand, and fill out the signature sheet by hand, so we were able to vote. And the voting machines worked fine, so that was all right.
Nov. 8th, 2016 07:24 pm (UTC)
UGH, my heart started pounding just reading this! I can't imagine having to go through that; in the weeks before I got my ballot by mail I might have had literal nightmares about something like this. I'm glad you got your ballot cast in the end; sorry it was so stressful! <3 <3 to you.

I have never in my life been so anxious about casting my vote. I mailed it over a week ago, but I was very fussy about what mailbox it went in, and then I did a ballot trace on my state's website and only felt a little reassured when it said my ballot was accepted for counting.

We are almost there. Again, I cannot recall a more stressful election season. With the exception of a brief rant today, and sharing one or two things, I too have managed to keep my opinions offline and mostly out of the workplace, but it was hard, and I'm still anxious, and I just hope it all resolves the way I need it to, QUICKLY.
Nov. 8th, 2016 07:51 pm (UTC)
Ugh that sounds so stressful! I'm glad they 'let' you vote though. You'd think after the "Hanging Chads Debacle" they would test and re-test every aspect of the voting process these days. (I noticed at my polling place that a couple of guys ahead of me had issues when they scanned their driver's license bar codes. When that happened, they gave them papers to fill out and sent them to another table...they sat down & filled them out -- they seemed rather extensive -- then handed them to the voting official at this side table who took them back to the scanning table did ~something~ with them and then got them their little slip of paper to vote.)

About the privacy thing...we have the electronic machines only (so far as I know -- they never mentioned the option of paper ballots) but at every previous election, the machines have been lined up so that the front of the machines were pointing toward the center of the room and your back was to the wall to give you privacy. This time, they were turned so that you stood with your back to the center of the room and, in theory, anyone could've walked up behind you and looked over your shoulder...I mean, there were polling officials who I'm sure would've stopped that from happening but still. It just struck me as odd.
Nov. 9th, 2016 12:40 am (UTC)
Wow. That's...horrible.

I did early voting. It was the first year that Massachusetts had it. I usually work Tuesday night, and trying to time my voting and still get to work on time has been a problem in the past. Since I know about 89% of the town, it takes me ages to both get in and get out, since I have to say hello to everyone and ask what's going on with their kids and talk about how long it's been since I've seen them.

Interestingly enough, they didn't ask me for ID at Town Hall. Just my street address and my name, then they handed over the ballot. I voted, and that was that.

I'll be doing that again, next election. MUCH easier.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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Melissa (Mo)

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