#GoVote2014 : My First Election Day Ballot

I had intended to get into the early vote line, as I’d done back in 2008, but stuff kept preventing me from going. Well to be truthful, the “stuff” was cold, blustery weather! Especially the case on Saturday. So, I ended up putting it off till today.

I’d looked up where the appropriate polling station was, and thought initially that I could access it by walking. It’s only just over a quarter mile away, after all. But after taking out the GPS and walking to my apartment complex’s leasing office, and finding that I was getting no closer to that location, I almost just gave up and stayed home. Well this happened after I ventured inside of the office and asked a worker who didn’t seem to speak much English if she had any idea where the polling station was.

Once I got home though, I fired up the Uber app and it said I could get a ride within two minutes. After the craziness I’ve seen in articles about this company charging people insane fares over Halloween, I was kind of hesitant to book a ride on this possibly busy night as well. I love the service, but if they charge me $500 I would be quite unhappy, to say the least!

A car arrived, fortunately with a driver who had seen me before. As we rolled up, he said “oh yeah, looks like a voting place. The line stretches nearly off of the sidewalk!”

I hopped out, thankful that the temperature was only in the mid 60s or so, and gingerly made my way toward the line’s first occupants. A woman who was on her way out helped me to find where everyone else was.

I was initially assisted by a kind person who said she works in RTP, went to school in Boston, and was originally from DC. She ended up having to leave, because her husband called saying he needed a ride.

Then, I was attached to, well, a nice but definitely opinionated person. She made her political views known for at least the next 15 minutes, causing me to chuckle a little if anything. I suppose it is a good thing to be so passionate about your beliefs, but I am saddened by the amount of vitreal that results from said these days. I mean disagreements, or perhaps more accurately differences of opinion on how policy should be enacted and who should do it are fine. After all, how would this voting thing work if such differences didn’t exist. We just need to re-remember how to listen to each other and be willing to hear things that are quite contrary to our own positions.

So I listened to her chatter as we inched our way toward the hot room, where we were again split into lines based on our last name’s place in the alphabet. This led me to be passed on to a third individual, who told me she’s currently attending Durham Tech and studying Early Childhood. She said she sees me outside of my door on a regular basis, and also offered to give me a ride once the voting was complete. Really kind person.

After another 20 minutes or so, we finally approached the table. We were asked if we had a picture ID, but told we didn’t need to display them for this election. They will be needed for the next. I’d registered to vote at the DMV when renewing my ID anyway, so I was good there.

Next, the woman thumbed through her list of names, confirmed that I was indeed on it, and presented me with a ballot. My new friend then took me over to a guy to inquire about the accessible voting machine, and he said he often uses it because it’s “cool”.

The ballot was fed into the machine, and off I went. That guy was attempting to talk to me as I listened to the instructions, but I finally got him to hold up long enough. There were also paper coverings on the earpieces, I guess so we don’t run the risk of transmitting germs from others’ dirty ears. A Braille display was present at the bottom of the machine, but it didn’t seem to be doing much other than posting the line “Insert ballot”. I would bet though that I could have done more to activate if, if I’d needed that service.

I have to say that it was quite empowering to be able to make my own choices and have time to go through the whole list. As noted in my 08 post, I didn’t get the chance then because of impatient folks saying they didn’t want to set the machine up. I will insist from now on that I be granted such access though, just as any other eligible American has the right to make his or her own voting choices without interference from others.

I was surprised that there were so many, especially the long list of judges whom I hardly know anyway. It took me maybe 5 minutes to work my way through all of the names, then a good little while for the machine to finish “Processing,” then we were on our way. I’d arrived at 5:15 or so, and think I hit the door out nearly an hour later. I don’t know how that looks with regards to other polling stations, but it didn’t seem too bad during the after work crush. Plus, I’ve rarely met so many people at the same time.

I confess that I haven’t voted nearly as often as I should, well ok that was only my second time so doing actually. But my ability to do so in this community continues to demonstrate the unprecedented level of access I have to resources here. This is why I would really like to remain here for a long time if at all possible. Not excluding some big, as yet unforeseen opportunity to relocate to a big city and great new job, but barring that I’m pretty happy right here in this little apartment.

I am also exceedingly pleased with the fact that so much is now accessible to persons who are blind, deafblind, with other kinds of disabilities and the like. Goodness knows we still have a long way to go. But as I sat in front of that machine participating in a widely watched state election, I thought about the brave men and women, African Americans, persons with disabilities, etc, who put their lives on the line to ensure that I could take that seat. I’m reading Edge of Eternity, Ken Follett’s last in a 20th Century trilogy that takes place mostly in the 60s. He puts his characters in the place of the major historical events of that era, I suppose revealing little-known details of what it was actually like on the ground. It has definitely given me a new appreciation, and if I can help it, I will vote forever going forward. Thank you.

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