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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Voting Night

Getting home to vote was crazy stressful. As with any other day where folks have to get home by a certain hour, generally a bit earlier than normal, traffic was all messed up. There was an accident on the other side of the freeway near the 280/880 junction, and apparently another issue further back near Foothill that had disappeared long before I approached it, but all I know is that from the moment I hit the freeway, I was creeping along between four and seven miles an hour. And this wasn't the first time this week.

Just a quick aside - traffic has gotten significantly worse in the last month. I've spent at least one night a week in truly horrendous traffic, and by horrendous, I mean freeways creeping at less than 10 miles per hour. I don't understand it, but I suspect Tracey's speculation Monday night may be accurate - with gas prices having dropped by a dollar a gallon, people are driving more. So, that was the final nail in my opting to vote for Proposition 87. Only when fuel is prohibitively expensive will we seek alternatives in the form of more fuel efficient vehicles, alternative energy research, and public transit.

Anyway, after over an hour of very stressful driving involving winding through the back roads of Los Altos Hill, getting cut off mid-merge by a Honda CRV who was apparently horribly offended that I was coming into His Lane, and all manner of manic and aggressive drivers, I finally made it to my polling place. I asked for a paper ballot, and they said they didn't have anymore. I looked at them incredulously. They suggested I could use my sample ballot, then looked at it and said, "Oh, if you hadn't been so messy." Well yes, it's MY sample ballot. It's got notes all over it. Now they were starting to annoy me. She rummaged around the mess on the counters and finally said, "Oh, well here's another sample ballot. Use this." Skeptical. So then it turns out they don't have anywhere for paper ballots to be filled out. So I walk over to the stove, and start filling it out on the electric coils. I get to the second side and realize that this ballot does not match my ballot. I walk back over and point this out, and she starts folding it up to throw it away. She then tells me to get in line to do it electronically. Um, no. The whole point was that I didn't wish to do it electronically, certainly not until our electronic machines are better secured. She starts in about how it's no big deal. And I launch about how I work on systems implementation and none of these machines would pass muster for security for anything and that until things change, I'll continue voting on paper thank-you-very-much. Sure, it's not likely that anyone will go thieving any of my local elections, but that doesn't make it alright that we're using a system that makes it highly possible. Anyway, at that point, I was no longer willing to back down. The poll leader lady came over and started sassing me about, "Well what do you expect us to do?" Well, I expect to vote in my chosen method, and I expect that you will supply a sufficient number of paper ballots, and a place to complete them. And she says, "Well what do you expect with less than an hour til the polls close?" That did it. I expect that during the hours of voting, I will be able to vote. That's my right as a registered voter, whether I choose to do it 7am or 7pm or 7:59pm, and whether or not I'm stuck in traffic for an extra forty minutes. I expect to not be made to feel like I'm being ridiculous when I know a heck of a lot more about computers than some smelly old woman (and please take a shower, put on a fresh shirt, and wear some deodorant before you come to work all day!). So I took back my original ballot, told them I'd just ignore the parts that don't apply to my district, and finish this up. I then completed my ballot, on the table with no less than 3 people looking over my shoulder at my voting choices. Then I handed over the ballot, which she put in an envelope, and started to set aside on the table. Then I said, "Doesn't that go in the ballot box?" And she says, "Yes, we'll do that." And I stared at her until she did it. As I walked out, I heard the smelly old poll leader exclaim, "Well really. Such a fuss." Almost turned around and got her name so that I could report her. Instead, I clung to my new absentee ballot voter reg card, and filled it out as soon as I got home. Screw this nonsense. I'm not playing the polling place games any more.

So did my vote get counted? I sincerely doubt it. But, who knows?

The proposition results this year are a bit disappointing. Prop 86 and 87 went down, which wasn't a huge shock, but too bad nonetheless. Really, I wouldn't mind if cigarettes were so expensive that it causes people to quit. There's just nothing wrong with that. It's a nasty filthy habit. The other one that bothers me is Proposition 83. We don't need to spend the money on low-risk offenders, but now we will, and it hasn't worked to reduce crime in other states where they've enacted similar laws. The truth is, it's too easy to become a registered sex offender for life. Heck, an 18 year old boy sleeping with his 17 year old girlfriend while they're both in high school could make the kid a registered sex offender for life if the parents get bitchy enough to prosecute. Does that make the boy a danger to others? Does it make it worthwhile to spend the money to track him by GPS for life? No! Oh well. People always picture the basic case when thinking about enacting these sorts of laws, and don't think about the rest of the cases. It's a knee-jerk expenditure that's going to be a big waste of money. Mergle.

So after voting drama, I came home and made matzo ball soup and potato pancakes for dinner, eschewing all of my other plans for sewing or socializing or going to the gym in favor of a nice evening at home watching the rest of Cassanova on Masterpiece Theater. Much enjoyed that. It's a fun sort of adaptation that shows influence from Baz Luhrman. That and this week's How I Met Your Mother had Morena Baccarin and made me laugh out loud.


  • Wow! I would write a letter to the registrar of voters including names if you have them.

    I have no problem with the machines, but there should be no issue in supplying you with an official paper ballot.

    Reminds me of when I voted in the 2004 primaries. They had just started using the electronic voting machines. I got an early start and was the first voter that day, and they couldn't get the voting card set up right. I kept going to the machine and it kept saying "Invalid voting card."

    We tried several cards in several machines, and they just couldn't get them to work right. Soon voters were there and the election officials were panicing as they couldn't get anyone on the phone to help.

    Finally, I just looked at the instructions on the card activating machine and read off the instructions to the guy while he punched the buttons. Problem solved.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 1:14 PM  

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