My 2016 Primary Voting Experience

For the third time in my life, and yes that may be too few given that I’m 36 years of age, I have cast a ballot. This was my first primary, which feels different because it doesn’t have the same energy as the General Election. I think also that maybe the standards aren’t quite as high either.

The first part of successfully voting is ensuring that I arrive at the correct polling place. I knew that Facebook would have their little box at the top of the app when I launched it saying that the North Carolina Primaries are today and would I be voting? It has a section within where one can easily check where to go, but unfortunately I couldn’t tap into it with VoiceOver. Frustrating, but I guess I wasn’t entirely surprised.

So I spent the next hour after work trying to find another way. Through our local news app, I found a link to the NC Board of Elections site. It took me maybe 5 tries, but I finally got this neighborhood’s strange address inputted and verified that the polling station was the same as it had been when I voted in 2014. So I punched up the Uber app, one of the biggest reasons I can now much more easily go and do my Civic duty, and took the 3-minute ride over to the location.

When I arrived, there was no line extending off of the sidewalk as there had been last time. I went straight in and tried to plug myself in behind the person who was standing just inside, but the greeter plucked me out of the line and insisted that I go ahead in where I could fill out the form to check my registration and ID. I’d already known about the recently instituted Voter ID laws here in our state, so was adequately prepared. All of that went smoothly.

Next, I was taken to the automark machine, the one that talks and allows for blind people to independently fill in their ballot. I was somewhat disappointed though, because this time it was right in the room and I had about five people standing right over my shoulder and breathing down my neck, making me feel under pressure to finish quickly. The room volume was also loud enough to make it difficult for me to hear, so I had to turn the machine way up with the headset on. Even so, I took the time to deliberate and select the individuals I had intended to. I had also used the Voter Guide on our local news app to generate the ballot I would see and learn about all of the candidates. I have to believe that this technology is democratizing us in ways that have never been possible, but of course only to the extent that we are willing to dig deep and make our preferences known. Tired as I was and as crazy as the initial process had been, I had only to remember that people fought, lost everything, and in some cases even gave their lives so that I could be sitting in that seat. I don’t take that lightly.

Anyhow, I printed the ballot, inserted it, and exited. The entire process took fewer than 10 minutes, which is crazy. My return Uber ride, well not so much a return as a grudging trip to the grocery store, also showed up quickly. Oddly, all three fares (from Dunkin Donuts to the polling place, polling place to the store, and store to my apartment) were exactly $4.80. I won’t complain about that, though. They had slapped an “I Voted” sticker on me, which I think inspired my shopping assistant to go and vote too as she said she was getting off at 6. Good stuff.

If I can help it, I will continue to vote from now on. I will also constantly make an effort to become a better advocate and a more informed citizen. I watch the movement on Twitter called #CripTheVote that is attempting to highlight disability issues. Sadly, I’m not sure that many candidates give this much thought to this point. But this is a big reason why I write, right? More later.

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