Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Conversation with an Actual Voter... Kinda

I was so wrapped up in boasting about my own voting yesterday, that I forgot to mention something election-related that happened at the bike shop post office this week.

On Monday, the day before election day, a fit, mussed, fortyish looking guy, wearing a plain white undershirt and a pair of blue pajama bottoms-- flannel, large plaid-- came up to the desk waving the yellow envelope that held his early ballot.  He wanted to drop it in the mail.  Not so unusual, people had been dropping them off for a couple of weeks. 

But, since the deadline for mailing the early ballots had fallen on the previous Thursday, I thought I would be helpful and let pajama guy know that, for his ballot to count, he would need to drop it off at a polling place. He was not the first citizen to have missed or simply ignored the deadline printed in red capital letters on the envelope.  I had already let a couple of people know they would have to drop their ballots off in person. They had thanked me.

"Where is one by here?" he asked, giving me the impression that maybe he didn't know what a polling place was. 

"At the high school gym, over on 82nd, or the middle school, off Granite Reef," I answered.  He still looked a little mystified about the fact that his ballot couldn't just be dropped off in the mail slot.  He looked annoyed that I had stopped him, actually.  He just wanted to drop off the ballot and be done.

He took a big breath, and sighed, and said, "OK, I guess I can go by there now." 

"No," I said, "there's no voting today, so you have to wait until tomorrow." 

Seriously, he asked me why he had to wait for Election Day for the polls to be open.

"They only have one Election Day, so no one's there for that now," I explained. 

"I can't just drop it off there? Won't they take it?" He was really annoyed now, wishing he'd never come in.  He could have dropped the yellow envelope into the mailbox in the parking lot and avoided this confrontational woman trying to keep him from voting...

"There's only voting on Election Day," I repeated, as though that would clarify things.  

"They only do it one day?" He looked disgusted, really miffed, as though something about having only one day to vote was deeply unfair.

"Yeah," I said, and because I couldn't help myself, I added, "that's why they call it Election Day." 

I don't think I was dripping sarcasm, exuding it maybe, but not dripping, for sure.  

He turned and shuffled away in his slippers, shaking his head about the stupidity of it all.  

I know now, from the results of the election, that he probably did get to have his vote counted.  

From the ice cream mogul my state has elected as the next governor to the evasively inarticulate gal we've selected to be our state superintendent of schools, to the prison lobbyist who will be serving as attorney general, the results are pretty disappointing from where I sit.  The current governor, Jan Brewer, beamed and fluttered her false eyelashes on every local newscast as the election returns came in last night.  The gal who rose to national  fame thanks to the viral image in which she popped her gum and wagged her finger in the face of the President, is apparently happy about the prospect of a slate of state officials who will ensure that Arizona will never escape her legacy of governmental buffoonery. 

On the upside, my town finally voted for a budget override that will put some money back into education. I'm going to take that as a victory, and try to ignore the rest for the next few years...

Full disclosure:  I confess to a nagging sense of judgement about the whole early voting thing.  I get absentee ballots-- you're out of the country, the state, what have you, you don't want to be disenfranchised-- but early voting when you're right here in town?  You can't take a couple of minutes to go to the polls on the same day as everyone else?  I'm sure there are good reasons for sending in an early ballot, so I know my judgey attitude is illogical, but still, come on, really?

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