I have a sentimental attachment to actually going to the polls on election day. If you are similarly attached, you have stories too. Today, my experience was…well, unique.
First, another of my other quirks is an overwhelming desire to be the first voter to cast my ballot in my precinct on election morning. To that end, I usually show up very early. This morning I was at the polls by 6:10, and at the front of the line by 6:15. I was standing there, right by the door when a lady (a nice lady I might add) was sent out of the door where I was standing, and took up a position at the head of the line….this did not fit with my plan…and since I really cannot be intentionally rude to anyone (and to be fair, she was sent there, and did not shoulder her way into the spot), I did not raise a fuss.
My next challenge was a hygiene challenged, overly opinionated fellow standing behind me in line. He commented on the failures of the Bush Administration to deal with the mortgage crisis, criticized all things Republican and in general was irritating me greatly…campaigning is not allowed within 100 ft of the polls…we were actually leaning against the polls…I kept quiet as long as I could, but finally reminded him that Congress had 17 requests in the last year, all from the White House, to change the regulatory policies governing Fannie and Freddie. I did everything I could not to make it partisan…but he was making it very hard for me to concentrate on my book (yeah, I am a History geek, so I read History Books while waiting for the polls to open)…he then decided to try another tack…this time attacking the exclusionary nature of the two party system, complaining loudly that the Republicans and the Democrats were keeping the third party candidates out of the debates by requiring them to achieve a 15% number…I had had just about enough, so I then reminded him that the since 1912 no third party has made a credible run for the White House because of the lack of organization needed to win election and pointed out that even when Nixon had considered forming a third party with John Connally they realistically did not anticipate winning….he became a little quieter at that point. ( I have never been happier to have useless historical trivia swimming about inside my head, than I was at that moment)
A little bit later the lady in front of me, and the man behind me discovered that they were both from Michigan…she had lived in England for a while, and had returned to the U.S. when she became disillusioned with the British health care system, and he expressed disgust with the condition of the economy in Michigan, but it was clear that both of them were going to vote for Barack Obama…can people really not connect the dots anymore? Barack tends to support a medical system similar to England, and the leadership and tax policies that have been employed by the leadership of Michigan have left that state in a horrible condidtion. The tax policies advocated by Barack Obama are in fact similar to those employed in Michigan….by this point, I had a bit of a headache.
At exactly 7:00, my cell phone buzzed with a message ( I am pretty sure from the Registrar of Voters…my students worked the polls today, so the registrar apparently had me on speed dial) that the polls were now open…a few minutes later we were allowed into the polls…I received ballot number 2 (I am trying not to be bitter right now….but really…NUMBER 2?….breathe, breathe, breathe), and preceded to the booth with my giant ballot (for a state that is so interested in all things green, those were some paper wasting ballots) and voted. I was in fact the first person to put my ballot in the ballot box (it was some consolation, but not a full salving of my wound).
I was in my truck and on the way to work by 7:08. Next time, I WILL BE number 1…even if I have to camp out the night before. Feel free to mock me for quirks….I know that I deserve it.