Voting: November 2008

Voting: November 2008

"Be Prepared!"

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All the pundits, the newscasters, the reliable sources and (as Mad Magazine always said) the usual gang of idiots, issued the warning.  The voter turnout would be HUGER THAN HUGE this time.  Vote early (and, of course, in Chicago, vote often). 
Be prepared to stand on lines.  Long lines.  Bring a book, a
music player,maybe a lawn chair or some sort of portable folding
seat.  Expect delays.  Turnout will be beyond what you've
ever seen or experienced before.  They all stressed that this
would be a different election, a different turnout, a different sort of
experience.  The tone was urgent, fervid, and a 
unanimous message from outlets of all sizes, shapes, political
leanings.  They said so on the local TV newscasts, local radio,
NPR, MSNBC and CNN: Be prepared, they warned!  It was as though the
experience of voting would be undergoing an opus metamorphasis, for
which one should be forewarned.  And perhaps, given the strident
and repeated warnings, forearmed!   So I approached to day
with a plan, a timetable, and a course of action to ward off any land
mines or evil spirits.

"Know The Terrain"

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My polling place is a suburban outpost in
what is known as the "western suburbs" of the New York metropolitan
area.  It sits in the Hudson Valley, a spot  where the weathercasters usually add
a  forecast coda, "with rain or snow heavier in the northern and western suburbs." 
Here we have EDs and ADs.  That's Election Districts and Assembly
Districts. When one arrives at the polling place there may be multiple
EDs or ADs with voting machines, so it is important to find the right
one.  I've been voting in the same location for the past 16
years, so I know where to go and at which table to sign in. I know the
terrain.  There
are a few blue-haired ladies who serve as Election Officials every
year.  Here in this part of the Hudson Valley there are many
"George Washington Slept Here" locations.  I believe some of the
nonogenarian-plus women who work as Election Officials may have
slept with him when he came through these parts.  But joke as I
might, these battle axes keep the process in check, moving it along.
They safeguard it, as well. One year the voting machine for my ED/AD was
broken, and they called the emergency number to summon a
repairman.  He fixed it, and on his way out to some other emergency he whispered to me that if somone a few
hundred years younger than the woman in charge had pulled the right
lever, voting would have been an hour further along.  It seems the
"machine start" counter toggle required more oomph than was available
from this woman who may just be one of the mothers of our
country.  That George Washington, he sure slept around.

"The Game Plan"

was time to map out a
strategy.  Get to the polling place early, maybe the crack of
dawn?  Bad idea, too many commuters would probably have the same
plan.  Plus, I am no good early in the morning, and might
accidentally cast votes on the wrong line.  Scratch that. 
After 10 AM? No, too many suburban Moms likely to head over here around
then, until at least 11:30.

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Hmm, then how about 11:30,
then?  No, too many local workers in  the community might go
for an early lunch, vote, then get back to their jobs.  And
that  analysis exends to those voting after their lunch, and those
who normally take lunch at 1PM, not Noon. So stay away until  at
least 2 or 2:30.  Uh-oh. The schools that  are  not
closed for the day will be closing around 3, so that means beware of  parents who will bring the kids to the polling
place as a family Civics Lesson.  Keep that in mind until
from 3:45 until 4:30.  Then comes the "leave work a little
early go vote then go home" camp.  By 5 all sorts of
office and shift workers will be flocking to the polls.  Come
6PM and those who work in the city will be filing off trains and buses,
going to the polls before heading home.  And we know from past
experience that anytime between 7 and 9 there could be a line of
stragglers and late voters.  That leaves a window between 2:30 and
3:45 to get in, cast my vote, and avoid the delays and madness of which
I've been forewarned.  And thus a plan was hatched.

Execution of The Plan

So what would happen?  Would I spend countless hours on
line?  I was certain my plan was good, but as a just in case, I
brought the headset for my Blackberry, to use it as a music player if I
was stuck on a long line. Also, with the Blackberry one can surf the
web, read email, and play with Twitter or Facebook.  I was fortified and ready.  Here's how it went:

I got out to go vote a little later than planned.  Started out at about 3:20 PM.

Closed and locked the door. 30 seconds

Went down stairs:  1 minute

Walked to polling place: 3 minutes

Waited for elevator to main floor:  4 minutes

Rode elevator: 30 seconds

Waited at my ED/AD table behind guy chatting up the election officials with
news of his mother in the nursing home, her surgeries, her medications,
how they're going to sell her house, what his siblings are up to, and on and on: 5 minutes (felt like
5 hours

Signed in, asked the election official about turnout: 1 minute

Voted: 20 seconds at most

Said good bye to the election officials  10 seconds

Waited for elevator again: 1 minute (an improvement!)

Rode elevator: 30 seconds

Left building, said hello to a neighbor coming into the building to
vote: a few seconds

Walked back from polling place: 3 minutes

Back up the stairs: 1 minute

Got the mail, unlocked the door: 30 seconds

Entire process: under 22 minutes.

So much for the warnings.

Now the results are in.  Looks like all the change that was under
discussion during this longest campaign ever is about to take
place.  I wonder how long it will take to vote next time around?

Always exercise your right to have your voice heard!<br />