Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day

So I voted today.  Just got back as a matter of fact.  All total, took me a 30  minutes plus or minus.   I left my house, walked down Sam Page Road past John's house, past Joe and Nancy's spread and past Jim's house to the corner of the H Road.  Left 100 yards and then I cut across and over the short hill where the town WWll veteran memorial sat facing the road.  Stopping for a moment of silence in front of the marble monument with the names of our local fallen chiseled into the stone, I considered what I had come for and why.

My first thought was about the convenience of using this solemn spot to cut short the distance to this years voting booths.  And then I looked at the names so neatly laid into that stone and checked for some I might recognize.  The was Goding, Winchell, and some other well used local names.  I looked at the names lined up cleanly in four rows and decided that why I had also chosen to pass this way was to honor those names.  I had done it for at least the last 3 or 4 elections.  These dead soldiers had given their lives for this country and I figured that voting was the least I could do to let them know they had not died in vain.

Some moments later I looked over at Town Hall.  Time to get it done.  Inside Town Hall, now election central - Acton Maine, the same voting booths I had used for as long as I remembered voting in Acton had been set up along the back wall.  Pulling up at the check in table, once again my next door neighbor was one of the two check in ladies.  A-L to the left.  M- Z to the right.  Nancy was in charge of A-L.  We exchanged cordial greetings as the gal controlling M-Z  looked up my name.  She crossed out a box next to my name and handed me two ballots.  She looked me in the eye.  "You have two ballots.  One is for the state and national elections . It has two sides. please fill out both.  One is a town ballot with just one question."

I was about to head for the booths when she followed up quickly,   "Now there have been some changes.........."

I suddenly became nervous.  There were changes in how I have voted for the last 30 plus years?  Oh no.  Shit.  I am not liking this.

"........On the state and national ballot you no longer X out the box with a pencil.  This year you need to fill in the circle.  That means fill it in, don't just mark it."  She looked at me to make sure I got it.

"Uh okay.  Got it. But why is it different?"

"The ballots are read by machine now."

I said something about how it felt like I was in Ohio what with the high falutin technology and all.  All I got back was a look that said, "Really?  Like I haven't heard that one 20 times already today."

Ballots in hand I slipped past her side of the table and sauntered over to the one booth open at the moment.  Stepped in and noticed tied with a granny knot, not one of my old friends the stubby pencil with no eraser, but a slick new felt pen.  I shrugged or grunted or in some other way acknowledged this step into the brighter and newer future of voting in Acton, Maine and got right to work filling in the circles next to my choices.

President - Obama./Biden - check
Senator - Angus King - check
House - Chellie Pingree - check

And so on down the line to finish with Judge of Probate.  I flipped it over and the five referendum questions looked up at me.  Checked yes on all of them.  Gay Marriage and the rest that ensured we Mainers would continue to be in debt for the foreseeable future.  And I felt not one iota of guilt.  We need to keep up our infrastructure up to at least crappy status.

When I had finished the General election ballot, I unfolded the town generated ballot.  "Cool, we have our own special ballot."  That added an uptick in the importance of this year's vote.  I checked off yes and left the booth.

Up until this election, Acton had been using two wooden boxes with a slide covers into which we stuffed our ballots.  Each one was  attended to by a dedicated volunteer.  Those locally fabricated boxes had served us well as long as I could remember.  We needed two when there was a local question in addition to anything either state wide or national.  Guess keepin them separated saved time at the countin end.  Today I walked over and there was only one of the old boxes with the slide cover.  In place of the other one sitting loud and proud on a very rugged steel frame, was what looked like a copier with a TV screen.  The friendly fellow responsible for this machine said, "Just feed it right in there."  He pointed to the intake port of the copier.

I fed the paper in and up popped on the screen "Your Vote has been counted".  I smiled and in my best local old dubber dialect, "Well ain't that fancy."  Just like James Bond."  The nice fellow smiled and said, "You're all done."  He said it in a way that let me know there was no dawdlin or foolin around.  He had votes to process.

I grinned and left.  I passed by that WWll Veteran monument again and paused again.  I looked at the flags on each side of it and smiled.  "This is still a grand country, no matter what we try to do with it.  Hope you guys are watching.  We're still here strokin."  I tipped my hat and strolled home.

On the way back up the hill I realized that I did not enjoy this vote as much as I have other votes in the past.  It wasn't all the hate and discontent surrounding this election.  It wasn't the down to the wire part.  It was those damn stubby pencils that had been replaced with felt pens and that alien looking machine that replaced one of the wooden boxes with the slide covers.  Their absence reinforced that even in boondocks Acton, Maine we can never go back or keep things as they were.  Even Acton has to face the future.  And that means so do I.  And sometimes that makes me nervous.

Keep it 'tween the ditches..............................


Mr. Charleston said...

We've had those card readers down here in Florida since the GW Bush debacle. I actually like them but I can see how you would miss a hand-made ballot box. Something about basics is comforting.

Randal Graves said...

Skynet appreciates your vote.

Kulkuri said...

Michigan went from the mechanical voting machines where you move levers to vote to the Optical Scan machines where you fill in the circles on the ballot and the machine reads it many years ago. Not sure exactly when as I wasn't here when the switch occurred. The Optical Scan machines can be hacked but are harder to do than the touch-screen ones and would have to hack every machine and you still have the paper ballot the voters marked for a recount.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Wow. Quite a result - almost like the 2010 midterms never happened.

I feel some sadness over this election. It matters not who won, because the USA is still heading down the same road to total financial destruction. There would essentially have been no difference with Romney... maybe a bit of trimming around the edges, but nothing to change course.

And when America crashes, it will take Canada down with it. I'll see you on the elevator, Crum.

Demeur said...

I've been from punch paper ballots to touch screens and now back to paper ballots here. That should say something. 2004 election created so much distrust that we won't have touch screen machines here ever again.

Darn El Cerdo that was going to be my escape plan when everything went to hell! To sneak across the Canadian border before the looting started. Now what will I do?

MRMacrum said...

Mr. Charleston - I was part of the first age group to have the right to vote when it changed to 18 in in the early 1970s. I have voted in every election since with the exception of one. I was on the road driving a truck and had forgotten to send in my absentee ballot. I felt guilty for days. I know my vote has little impact by itself, but I still think it is imperative and the single most important duty as a citizen of this country. Voting has become a time honored tradition for me. And when the process changes, even a little, I feel unsettled like somehow this new whatever will make my paltry vote disappear. Besides, by voting, I feel I have every right to complain and whine until next election. Voting pays my complaining dues.

Randal Graves - I'm assuming the Republicans aren't.

Kulkiri - All I know is I no longer trust "the machines". We are placing entirely too much of our confidence in them. When the grid goes down and the Chinese hordes pour over our border, who is going to save us? The machines? I don't think so. The evil Chinese built them and I just know the machines are pre-programed to blow up. I know this cuz I read about it on the Internet.

El Cerdo Ignatius - Yeah, it was quite a show. What thrills me the most is we kicked the Tea Party's ass. Especially here in Maine. Took back the state house. Now all we have left to do is make our loser Governor a one termer.

Demeur - You can head for the border. I'm staying here. Got three years worth of slim jims stored in the basement right next to twenty cases of gatorade. Plenty of ammo and some big ass knives. Those chinese guys are not going to take me down without a fight.