Adventures in Voting

The polls opened in North Carolina at 6:30 this morning. I wanted to vote early, as early as possible, so I arrived at the local Baptist church–my polling place, two blocks from my house–about quarter past six.

The line was already a good hundred and fifty people long.

At 7:40 I finally entered the church. The line had moved briskly, though in fits and starts. The election workers were allowing groups of twenty in at a time. It was a nice morning–bright, clear, temperature in the mid-60s–so I was glad I hadn’t worn a jacket. Indeed, I hadn’t even worn pants, just a buttoned shirt and shorts.

Once in the church I waited to present my voter registration card. There were five or six lines, based on last name, and for some odd reason it seemed that half of my group of twenty had last names ranging from D to G. So, I waited some more and talked with the woman who oversaw the A through C names–she hadn’t been that busy yet this morning. At last I reached the table, presented my voter registration card, presented my driver’s license because I hadn’t voted in this precinct before, and then we ran into a problem.

I didn’t have a sticker in the voter book.

In North Carolina voting works like this. The poll worker highlights your name in a book, five names to a page, and there’s a sticker next to your name and address that he pulls out of the book and affixes to a form the voter signs to receive a ballot.

My name was in the book. My sticker wasn’t there.

We have a problem, he said. He stood, tried to get the attention of the poll overseer. She came over.

Had I already voted? she asked.

No, I hadn’t, the man behind the table said. He said he thought he may have affixed my sticker to another’s signature form, that he placed two stickers on the form. Indeed, in his book the sticker for the voter beneath my name was gone, his name highlighted in yellow while my name hadn’t yet been highlighted. She studied his book, and they went over to the table where the signature forms are turned in. They began looking through the signature forms.

No, the sticker wasn’t there. No form had been double-stickered.

The poll overseer looked at the poll worker. What’s this? she asked, as she plucked a sticker off the poll worker’s shirt sleeve.

My sticker was stuck to his shirt sleeve.

No one is really sure how the sticker wound up there. He apologized profusely, affixed it to the signature form, and I signed to receive a ballot.

A paper ballot. Who’d have thought it?

Five minutes later I was finished making my choices. No real surprises in my picks, though I did cast a vote for Lee Griffin, the Libertarian candidate for State Senate. Why? Because Griffin supports a lottery for North Carolina. He won’t win–I saw not a single sign for Griffin anywhere locally, nor heard any radio commercials.

Finished, I put my ballot into the optical reader. Voter number 154, the machine read. I left the polling place, my civic duty discharged.

If you haven’t voted yet, if you’re registered to vote, what are you reading this website for? Go out there and vote. 🙂

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