Another one rides the bus

sunriseThis post isn’t about the bus. It is my periodic report on the voting experience here in this nice but not fancy neighborhood on The Planet Ann Arbor.

First, my personal voting story. I took my regular 0-skunk-30 walk this morning and arrived back at the polling place (the elementary school “behind” my house) at 6:58 AM. The doors were open and somebody called out, “Here’s number 5!”, as I walked in. It took me a split-second to realize that it was NOT 7:00 yet, so the polls weren’t open quite yet. I grabbed a voter application and took my place at the end of the line. I didn’t actually count the number of people who were ahead of me. If I had, I’d’ve known that I was actually voter number 4. For a few years (after I started voting regularly again — long story), I toyed with the concept of trying to always be voter number 1. In the end, I decided not to be OCD about that.

Getting there early does not always mean you have the fastest voting experience. The election worker manning the laptop struggled to properly handle all three of the voters ahead of me. By the time I got there, he was starting to get the hang of it. And then, there was the Gobbler, a ballot-eating musheen. It wouldn’t take my ballot at first. I tried not to panic. During a voting experience years ago, when the Gobbler wouldn’t eat my ballot, someone yelled out, “She over-voted!” I was MORTIFIED!!! What? (Same long story as before.) Today, the poll worker manning the Gobbler sounded a bit more frustrated than me. “Oh, don’t start doing that!” (to the musheen, not to me). I KNEW I hadn’t over-voted. There was only one little circle to fill in on this ballot. He had the right karma to jolly the dern musheen along and it finally swallowed my ballot and I headed off out of Haisley School for about the billionth time in my life. I did not walk down the long hall past the early-el classrooms because 1) the custodian was hanging out there and 2) I wasn’t sure I could get OUT the back door with the newfangled security system.

Only one circle to fill in = only one thing on the ballot. Transit millage. Do we increase funding for the AAATA bus system (via our property taxes) or not. Like so many other polly-tickal issues, this one was too complex for me to sort out. That’s not because I can’t sort things like that out. It is because, as a systems analyst, I know that I would need a LOT more information than what is included in each side’s campaign and I would also need about six 40-hour weeks to understand it.

I won’t tell you whether I voted yes or no. Secret ballot, right? I will say that I am absolutely positively utterly FOR public transit solutions, even though there is no way that reasonable bus service to my workplace will happen while I’m still working there. On the other hand, public transit has to be planned and implemented carefully.

I don’t know what will happen with the transit millage but I will say that it is unusual to arrive at my polling place before it opens for a small election like this and find more than ONE person ahead of me. This is an issue that people around here care about and a few more of them than usual are voting, so it’ll be interesting to know what the results are.

P.S. Here in the Great Lake State, I am now [alas] at an age that allows me to vote at all elections as an absentee. I am all for absentee voting and all of its variations. For now, I do not have a disability that prevents me from WALKING over to the polling place and voting in person. Like I said, I did my regular 0-skunk-30 walk BEFORE voting! Three miles.

4 Responses to “Another one rides the bus”

  1. Sam Says:

    Around here (GA), we have “early voting,” open to any registered voter. (With proper ID.) There’s lots about voting down here that bothers me, but I like the early voting policy.

  2. Margaret Says:

    Keep us posted! I’m curious about the results. We definitely need more transit here–especially into Seattle. OMG. Our voting is all by mail and I miss the experience of going to my polling place which was Woodland Elementary School.

  3. Tonya Says:

    I haven’t voted at a polling place (i.e., “machine”) since I was in my 20s. As soon as I possibly could, I opted for absentee ballots (didn’t have to actually prove you were truly absenstee, and it simply made life so much easier, especially when I was a single mom). I hated the lines, the hassle, the ordeal of poll voting. For years now we’ve been mail-in only (no longer considered “absentee”) and I love it. Every state should at least have that option. There wouldn’t be the ordeals of voting shenanigans (i.e., l-o-n-g lines, the supposed controversy of “early voting,” etc. etc.). That said, our recent transit tax failed and they are talking about cutting bus service significantly. Not that I would take the bus, as it would add ANOTHER hour to my already HOUR commute.

  4. Pooh Says:

    As an election worker, I will candidly say that the first voter of the morning is like the dress rehearsal of a play. We do our best, but you have a collection of people who got up at 4:00 or earlier, spent an hour getting all the machines set up and signs taped, and don’t forget the flag, etc. In the last election, our optiscan reader, (the one that reads the paper ballots), also refused to work. We put the ballots in the emergency bin, and called the tech guy. He had never even seen the error message it was displaying. He fiddled with it, and called his supervisor, and told us to keep using the emergency bin for the nonce. A little later the tech supervisor called back, and he had never seen the message either. He asked me if I felt like doing a little troubleshooting with him on the phone. The first thing he does is ask me to pull the reader out from the base. Now, we had done this before we called the tech guy, and the tech guy had done it too, but okay. He asks me to check for any little scrap of torn paper. Nada.
    So I slide it back into the base, and he asks me to test it. Lo and behold, this time it reads the ballot. I read the other two or three ballots through and thank him for his magical healing powers. (BTW, the ballots were read in with a bi-partisan team watching, lest anyone suspect me of hanky-panky on the voting.)

    P.S. Mark just asked me what I was commenting about. “Voting”, said I. “Boating”, was what he heard. Is boating on the transit proposal?