After what shall now be dubbed somewhat of a voting “experience,” I feel both obligated and inclined to share with you the unexpected tale of August 3, 2010.
I should start out by mentioning that I might have mindlessly displaced the fact that before gubernatorial elections, there is something called a primary. I was so graciously convicted of my ignorance yesterday by my boss, Mark, who reminded the company at large to fulfill our civic duty and maybe help Michigan make something of itself.
Inspired and feeling somewhat guilty, I made the executive decision: Taylor, you will vote in this primary for the first time. You shall not silently condemn others for something that you yourself are not actuating.
So, the decision was made. Mark even gave us a little extra time off today to go and vote, time that, had I not been slammed by client work, I would have gladly taken. The alternative, be that as it may, was to frantically challenge the rush hour traffic home, taking a what should have been 15-minute hike in 40, grab a Frap at Starbucks for brain fuel and studiously look up candidates at T-minus 2.33 hours until the polls closed.
Relying on my trusty Stickies Mac widget for “professional note taking,” I tried to, as carefully as possible, scour each candidate’s website, figuring that, yeah, they’ve all got to be lying in part, but they’re ideologies and campaign goals have to count for something, right?
Racing home after a half hour of research, I shoved a microwave burrito down, hoping and praying that my stomach wouldn’t regret that decision, and continued to ravenously research (sexy, huh?). It was now 7:15, and I was down to three candidates. THIS IS SUCH A HUGE RESPONSIBILITY, my conscience roared. I kept telling myself, look at the candidate, not the party and make an informed decision. I finally made one, and it felt good. I felt empowered, and – by golly – I WAS GOING TO VOTE!
This brings me to the real story. It was now 7:25. I needed to get to the polling place by 8, place my vote and book it to Royal Oak by 8 to take part in my first ever Tweet Tea, a social media round table discussion sort of thing that takes place every Tuesday night at Goldfish Tea. Scribbling down addresses to both places, I quickly bid my cat adieu, her eyes glaring with what was detectably an accusation of neglect, and trampled down the stairs, out the door and to my un-airconditioned car.
Already sweating from the commotion, I swiftly pulled out my GPS, silently forbid it to mess with me while I was on a time table and confidently punched in the polling place address. After about a minute of the spinning hour glass, I defeatedly called the boyfriend for directions and was then on my way. Momentarily delayed by what was only the second train I’d ever seen at this particular intersection, I arrived at the elementary school doubling today as “Michigan Pride” central. Avoiding the eye contact of the candidate pushers occupying their posts outside the election doors, I hurriedly rushed into the gym cafeteria, excitedly awaiting my opportunity to contribute to society.
Me: Um, excuse me? Hi…I have no idea which precinct I’m in…
Pro-Michigan Volunteer (PMV):“That’s okay, honey. Do you have your driver’s license?
PMV: Hmmm…I don’t seem to see you in the system… Do you have your voters registration card?
Me: No. (What the heck did I do with it?!)
PMV:Do you have a passport? Wait, maybe you’re in this stack of cards.
(Pause while looking)
PMV: Nope, not in here.
(Line stacking up behind me at this point)
Me: I have a passport. I’ll have to run home and grab it though.
PMV: Do you have citizenship?
Me: Well, I moved here in November…
PMV: To the country?
Me: No! I have a passport though; I’d be happy to run home real quick and grab it.
PMV: Do you have your birth certificate?
Me: No, a passport though. I’ll be back! I live close.
I then darted away, trying to avoid eye contact with the line of people that had built up during the four minutes of awkward miscommunication, all of which who were definitely in control of their veteran-voting-know-how status.
I drove home, raced up the stairs, said hi my kitty and thrashed open my junk drawer, desperately trying to free my passport. Trying to temper the humiliating thought that these people are going to see my Spain stamp and wonder how I navigated a foreign country when I can’t even remember a voting card, I shrugged and again hustled to my still un-airconditioned car. Sweat droplets more prominently dotting my face now, I tried to abide the speed limit as I cruised back to the polling place. The time? 7:50. Crap, I thought. Tweet Tea is really looking like an impossibility. My co-worker, Nikki’s, gonna kill me. Ashamedly texting her, I briefed her on my voting trials and promised her recompense for my failure to make my promised appearance.
Alright, back to the attendant booth I went, this time not managing to dodge the campaigners for some local candidate on the way in. Mumbling something like, “Thanks for the suggestion,” I hurried past. So irritating, I thought to myself.
PMV: Oh, she’s back!
PMV: We were worried about you!
Me: Really? I live pretty close. Told you I’d be back.
PMV: Don’t worry, honey; we’ll get you in. Everybody in line at 8 will get to vote.
Me: Oh, good.
(Handed over passport and after verification, was presented with a ballot)
PMV: Now remember: you can only vote straight-ticket on this. That means you can’t pick a candidate on the other side, even if you like him better.
Me: You mean, I only have to fill in one bubble?
(Puzzled looks. I walked to the booth embarrassedly. I arrived. My eyes zig zag this way and that for a pen. Nothing. I walk back to the attendant table and try to snatch a pencil.)
PMV Table: “NO, NO, no! There’s a pen at your booth!”
(Choking on my pride, I walked back and proceed to grab at the wrong side of the booth for the pen.)
PMV: No, other side!
I glanced at the ballot. Sure enough, formatted for straight ticket voting. I selected my choice for governor. But, alas! There were a whole bunch of other bubbles to fill out. State of panic: I had no idea who any of the people were. Quick! Think! Who were those annoying campaigners outside representing? Come on, brain. Pine! Fail.
I reread the directions twice to make sure I at least handed in my 1/8th completed ballot correctly. After running it through the machine and satisfyingly watching it tally my vote, I retrieved my “I Voted” sticker and was on my way, but not without saying a jolly goodbye and thank you to all my new friends, who also now think I have the intellectual capacity of a 3rd grader. Oh, America, they thought, what is to come of you?
Time at voting completion: 8:05. Fail. I guess I won’t be going to Tweet Tea after all.
On the way home, a goose and its extended family decided it would be a good idea to completely block the entire road, unresponsive to my persistent honks. Once again, a line was building behind me. This time, of cars. After waiting for the stubborn animals to take their sweet time crossing the street, I managed to make it back to where I started – only this time with the empowerment that only taking part in our democratic society can lend.
Thank you, America. Thank you.
Photo Credit: Flickr’s Vaguely Artistic