I have a work meeting downtown today, in the building that also houses Obama’s HQ. It took 20 minutes to get through the building’s security. The elevators to the 11th floor (his floor) are sectioned off and have special security. No other elevators will go to that floor. Even for our office on the 8th floor, the security is extra tight today.
Before that though, I voted. I need to explain how my polling site works to make the rest of this make sense. First, they sort you by last name into A-C, D-G, H-L, M-P, Q-Z, roughly. There is one worker per grouping, going through a single stack of voter forms. One thing that is immediately apparent is that these aren’t equal groupings as far as the alphabet goes. What isn’t immediately apparent is that these aren’t equal groupings as far as population distribution either. I don’t know how or why they chose the groupings, but I assume there was some kind of thought process involved. Maybe that’s how the stacks came to them? Anyways, after you sign your voter “application” form and the worker verifies that your signature matches, you take that form over to the line for your district (4 districts at our site, with ours being the largest and closest and thus the most likely to vote), and there is one worker per district. The district worker checks to see what voting form you should get, and gives it to you along with a special voting pen and a privacy screen…then you go to a carol and do some bubbling. Finally, you go to the voting machine that matches your district, slide your privacy-shielded form into the machine, wait for it to bleep and assign you a voter ID, and then you get a sticker and you’re done.
I arrived at the voting site at 6:45am. I had a train to catch, 10 minutes away on a normal day, at 7:37am. First, there was a line out into the hall and back toward the door. A poll worker came into the hall and said that if your name began with A-C, you could go ahead in. Woohoo! So, I head into the polls.
They couldn’t find me in the stack. Scott was there, but I was not. Now, the last time I voted, they had me down as my pre-marriage name, despite me correcting my registration right after we got married. But, I had it changed, voted on a provisional ballot due to the name change, and received an updated registration card. So, it seemed like I’d be all set. But, no. I had to go over to the “laptop desk” which has always previously been the ballot judge, but I guess they decided that was too intimidating. 🙂 So, now it’s the laptop desk. The person there looked me up and discovered that they did update my name, but they left it alphabetized under my previous name. So, I needed to get in the Q-Z line, which was currently combined with the M-P line and was the line that goes out into the hall and was, by now, about twice as long. But, I reminded myself that I’m a citizen here, not a customer, so I dutifully joined the line without griping. Apparently, the Q-Z person had gone away to try to get security to open up an outside door, as the voting site room was a sweatbox. The AC couldn’t be turned on until 9am, when the “tech staff” for the building arrive.
Fortunately, Q-Z person soon came back, and then we were able to form two lines and it went much quicker. Going to the district table meant another line, as my district had 15 people in line, with no people in line for any other district. ::sigh:: At this point, it’s 7:05am, so I’ve given up on the possibility of getting breakfast on the way to the train. I patiently wait for my ballot. In the interim, I chat with a poll worker about how the day is going. I also note that there is a suited lawyer milling about, helping to guide people to the right line, but also dashing over whenever the “laptop table” has a voter at it or when a question is raised at any other location.
Upon getting my ballot, I go to a carol and start bubbling. I hate bubbling. I miss Palatine’s punchcards, dangling chads and all. I always fear that I will bubble a bit too much outside a line, no matter how much my geek half reminds me that we build in tolerances that would far outscope my careful bubbles. I voted straight Democrat, except for one election where there was only one person running. I also voted for the park district and the school both to issue bonds and be given loans to expand. I debated heavily about the school vote, because I generally vote against school things as I have no kids and no plans for kids. But, I decided that if they expand, they might put in facilities that would be useful to me, as the community center events are often held there.
After bubbling in record time, I proceed to the unsurprisingly long line for my district’s machine. I actually got two “I voted” stickers, so go me! That actually worked out well, because I have one for my work dress and one for my Obama t-shirt (which I’ll change into as soon as my work is done). The machine line went fast, thankfully, and I left the voting office at 7:25am. Now, there’s a vague chance that I might make my train at this point, so I get on the road. But, with traffic, it becomes clear that I’m missing it. There was no backup train for me at Great Lakes but there was one at the Lake Bluff station about a mile or two further south, so I headed there. I ended up driving into a parking space (without having paid) as the train pulled up, so I gathered my stuff and hopped on the train. If Lake Bluff tickets me, I deserve it 2-3 times over, so…
My debate today is whether I stay here for the Obamapalooza or head home on one of the (many) early trains and celebrate at somewhere more comfy and close to home.
On another note, a friend of mine had a funnier anecdote to share from the polls. She has a young son, and they got back from a Disney trip a few days ago. He went with her to the polls. Her son was extraordinarily good, considering the 30 minute process. But, apparently, there was some miscommunication:
As we left, we had the following conversation:
“Thanks for being such a good boy.”
“It was my favorite line, Mama, but where’s the boat?”
“There was no boat, Mama. There’s supposed to be a boat.”