Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Best Voting Experience Ever!

I'm on call on Election Day this year, so no going to the polling place for me. I got my absentee ballot in the mail and sat down a few nights ago to fill it out. I have an election ritual where I sit down with mailed resources and the computer for online info to work through various local, state, and federal voting items that I'm not yet familiar with/decided upon.
This is one of my favorite parts of voting; taking my time, being deliberate, and ensuring that my choices are accurate. Trouble was, this year I forgot to do it.
I was so excited to get into my ballot and start filling in bubbles, I made the expected and obvious mistake on one of the state propositions, thus spoiling my ballot and my night. I couldn't feel good about sending in a flawed ballot. My vote counts, and I have a responsibility to make it right. Oh, my frustration boiled out!
Until The Jess stepped in.
As I sat grousing over my mistake I was reminded by my wife not to worry about it. "Why?" I asked, and she again reminded me that, in our democratic system, you can take a mulligan. Well, that made me take a moment to reflect! What a wonderfully flexible and forgiving voting method I was participating in. What a brilliant way to keep people involved and make them feel empowered. This decision-making process is for us, and we get to complete it, come hell or high water.
I slept easy that night knowing that I had could just cruise down to the Registrar of Voters and exchange my spoiled ballot for a new one. No sweat.
But this story, already empowering and wonderful, is not over, because I went to the Registrar yesterday morning and came face to face with something truly special.
The parking lot: chock full. The line: out the door. The patrons: both genders, all different ages, races, accents. The attitude: excited and kinetic. The workers behind the counter: busy but pleasant, helpful, and accommodating to a person. Unreal!
This place was literally chock-a-block with voters waiting to cast their ballot, get absentee ballots, or like me, exchange a spoiled ballot. I overheard one staff member say they had stayed open until midnight on the day voter registration closed, another staff member say they were going to be open all this week and next until everyone had been served, including the weekend.
I did not hear a single voter request turned down, every need was filled either right then and there, or the patron was told exactly what they needed to do to vote on time.
I'm a pretty pragmatic, level-headed cat who doesn't get too sucked into hype and hoopla. I can say; however, that what I saw and participated in this morning is why our country is such a remarkable place. Empowered people participating in a system that is clearly there to facilitate their action. This dynamic is why we can all be confident in our nation's ability to deal with issues; an activated and engaged populace with a government there to help is an irresistible force, and it was truly amazing to see it in action today!
Now, my replacement ballot is correctly filled out and in the mail, my "I Voted" sticker is on, and my voice will be heard on November 4th!

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