Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I Voted for America, but America Voted for Stupidity

Well, I went and voted this evening after work. I made it to the polls at about 5:45 PST. I left about 6:15. In between I cast my vote to elect a good man to be our President and clean up the mess made by the bad man I hoped to fire. And yet, hundreds of thousands of Americans have voted against their interests to, in all likelihood, re-elect a man with sub 50% approval ratings who can't think of any mistakes he has made. I don't need to recount his mistakes to all of you. So, I suppose I'll recount the entertainment that is voting in California.

My voting adventure actually started the night before. Things had been really busy here and I wasn't versed enough on the issues. I knew who I wanted for President, Senate, and House. It looks like I went 1 for 3 there. Good in baseball, bad in elections. At any rate, there were nine other local races and TWENTY ballot questions. You read that right. Thank heavens for smartvoter.org. I was able to spend a few hours researching everything on a smart voter page customized to my address. I marked up my sample ballot so I would be able to vote more easily. No way was I going to be able to remember which way to vote on all these stupid things. And many were important, too.

For example, there is a ballot initiative which will allow for the DNA of anyone arrested to be collected and stored in a database indefinitely if they are arrested. Note that I did not say they had to be charged. False arrest? Too bad. You are part of the criminal DB. I voted against. I lost there, too.

Some of the propositions were tricky. For example, there is a landfill that is planned. There was a ballot question to rescind this. So, if you don't want the dump, you have to vote yes. I voted no.

I was tempted to vote no on all the questions out of sheer annoyance. What is wrong with communicating with your elected official and trying to get something passed that way? If they don't pass things you like, you vote them out. Not in California. Here, just get some signatures and spend a lot of money and you, too, can screw up the state budget.

Anyway, I did my homework and went to the poll. Fortunately, I verified the polling place on line. It changed a few weeks ago. The line was pretty short. But then again, so was the supply of voting booths. They were pretty much just cardboard boxes with shelves. There was a grand total of eight booths. We were supposed to have Diebold eVote machines, but I guess the state is suing them. So, we reverted to paper. They were the fill in the oval kind of ballots.

I was in line with a first time voter. She was 18 or 19 and was nervous. A few of us in line shepherded her through. Several of us had our booklets with us. She asked if she was supposed to have one with her. She became even more nervous when she saw the man at the check-in desk asking for the booklet. We told her not to worry. People just brought them as an aid.

It turns out, the guy was asking for the booklets so he could look up street addresses. It wasn't a requirement. It was just easier for him. And I saw why. The woman ahead of me in line gets her mail at a PO box. So, he had to ask her for her street. The exchange went like this:

Him: What street?
Her: Belfast
Him: Hillcrest?
Her: (louder) BELFAST
Him: Ok...(flips to Hillcrest on the street sheet)
Him: Oh! Not Hillcrest? Hang on.

Sadly, that was the most entertainment I managed to get out of the experience. My vote was counted and I was on my way.

I spent the evening watching the returns and starting to try to figure out what country to move to.