Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yo voté

...a siete de la mañana.

I was the first person in line at 5:45AM (I was the first person there - before even any poll workers), the second person to fill out their application-to-vote card, and the third person to hand in a ballot. I was all done at 7:13AM. Of course, this meant that I had to wake up at 5AM (and I forgot to turn my phone's enunciator to "on", so was lucky to be woken up by the buzzing of the vibrate-mode). No one was there when I got to Bach - no other voters and no volunteers. I (somewhat arbitrarily) decided to wait at the main entrance (since it is a "main" entrance) for the poll workers, and when they arrived - closer to 6AM - they all decided that, yes, the main entrance would be the one through which people would enter to cast their votes. By that time two other voters had joined the line, and we all sat in the pre-dawn coolness and near-foggy conditions to wait for 7AM.

After some time of sitting on cold concrete, I got up to look back at the line which had been inexorably lengthening up Jefferson St. toward 5th St. It had become long enough that from my position, I could not see the end of the line as it was past where my line-of-sight was cut off by the building. "Oh, wow," I thought, "even in liberal Ann Arbor, where voting Republican is apparently a wasted vote, people are energized to get in early to vote... Or they just want to make sure they get to work on time." Happily, the polls opened at 7AM on-the-nose, and I sprinted (well... walked quickly would have been closer to the mark) to the application table.

Like the last time I voted at Bach School, it seemed to turn into a bit of a cluster-fark in terms of logistics. Let me explain. The polling place is actually in the school's auditorium (which may also act as a cafeteria). There are double-doors at the end of a short corridor and anteroom to let people in to the auditorium. This anteroom area works on polling days to create nothing other than a milling area - a purgatory for those voting - for people waiting, waiting, waiting to vote. However... there is a problem: the application-to-vote table is place immediately inside the auditorium, thus forcing people to go to that table, sign a card, leave the table, go back into the waiting area (or further back into the narrow corridor) to find the back of the line to pick up a ballot. Then people can re-enter the auditorium with their application card and try and get into lines for last-names starting with A-K or L-Z. This is not clearly marked when people get in. Oh... and there is no door designated as an official exit from all of that craziness.

Knowing that all this cluster-farking logistical nightmare was likely to be par for the course this year (plus with all the news stories about voting lines), I decided last week to get up really early today to go and vote. (I even looked up the past-tense form of the Spanish votar so I would know how to write it out.) In the 12 minutes it took for me to sign my application card, wait for the poll volunteer to figure out how to issue me a ballot, fill out the form in a poorly-lit area of the auditorium (they really need lighting along the walls, too), and hand it in, the Purgatory-like waiting area had become clogged with people, the hallway leading outside was filled up, and the line extended around the corner (about 20 minutes later, when I returned to collect my thermos that I forgot outside Jefferson Market, the line had extended to the main entrance of Bach - perhaps it will get so long as to make it around the next corner, as well).

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