Friday, October 31, 2008

Things heard in the early voting line

I voted yesterday. Stood in line for half an hour then waited inside in the seated line for another 40 minutes. And along the way, I saw and heard some interesting things.

A mother and her son, who was in his early 20s. She had already voted, but she was waiting in line with him, reviewing the sample ballot and discussing the issues. I figured it must be his first time to vote. Why he needed Mommy along was beyond me.

The couple in line in front of me seemed like a nice enough couple, in their early 60s. They were reading through the sample ballot as they waited and it became clear to me that it might have been the first time they had even glanced at what was on the ballot. There were quite a few charter amendments on our ballot (an unfortunate growing trend), and as usual the language of the amendments had them stumped. I finally had to jump in and explain a few of them to this obviously intelligent couple. This was tricky because I did not want to give explanations that seemed to favor a particular decision on the ballot item. Apparently I did an OK job because they thanked me with sincerity. But I had to wonder, if intelligent mature adults had not taken the time to discover what was on their ballot this year and inform themselves, how many others would be voting on issues they didn't understand one bit?

A few feet back in line were two old-timers, the kind of guys you find huddled in coffee shops on a weekday morning loudly solving the world's problems. They were very loudly discussing their choice of presidential candidate in a way that had to be offensive to more than just a few people in line. It made me wonder why we had not yet seen reports of fistfights breaking out in early voting lines.

A "Bless her heart" moment. A very chatty senior lady was sitting behind me in the line. She talked to everyone and anyone non-stop. At one point a woman sat down next to her and the chatty senior asked this woman if she knew what the abbreviations meant. What abbreviations was the reply. Then chatty senior lady plucked the woman's sample ballot right out of the hand of this woman and proceeded to try and find the abbreviations on the ballot, much to the innocent woman's horror. "Oh no" she said as she snatched the sample ballot away from chatty senior, not wanting the chatty senior to see her ballot choices. Chatty senior didn't even realize her social faux pas, she just kept talking undeterred. Bless her heart, this must have been chatty senior's biggest opportunity for conversation in months.

One thing is for certain, this is going to be an election for the record books.

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