© 2010 Jeanne E Webster. All rights reserved
It was Primary Day at the polls, February 2, 2010, and also Groundhog Day. I had done my homework. From researching records and writing up an Excel file, I was prepared to cast my ballot…or so I thought. I rolled out of bed at 6 a.m., ate breakfast and did chores. Next came what I call putting on my face: a dab or two of makeup, style my hair, and try to appear fairly lucid for early morning. I must tell you, I’m not usually an early morning riser. My husband, the dogs and birds, even the window blinds know to keep it down until late morning.
It was time to head to town at last. My husband and I arrived at the elementary school to do our civic duty, my list of choices wadded up in my jean’s pocket. The polling place seemed almost lonesome. We entered the inner sanctum and paused, noting three separate voting areas and only one person voting. The first table had a sign that read District 1. We must have looked confused because the closest election judge hollered over from her table, “South side of the tracks or north side?”
We had voted here before and knew where to sign in, but to indulge the little lady, I asked, “What tracks?” You see, we live outside of town, way out in the boonies where the corn grows tall, the beans climb high, and the coal cars rumble by on a regular schedule.
In a manner that told me she wasn’t sure if WE knew where we lived, the lady inquired again. “Where do you live?” I rattled off our street address, and she brushed us off towards District 3.
The election judges were chuckling as we obediently appeared at their table. “What party are you voting for?” one of them asked matter-of-factly. This invasion-of-privacy rule has been a bone of contention in my craw ever since it came into effect, so politely I told them I really didn’t think I should say. One judge reminded me that the machines were programmed with designated party sections for Primary Day; therefore I had to let them know what party I was voting for.
So, leaning forward, I softly whispered that it was Republican.
“What was that?” she asked.
I replied a little louder, “It starts with a “Grrr… R!”
“Ok,” she grimaced, “I wasn’t sure if I had heard you correctly.”
Corroborating my name and address with the voting rolls, she then handed me a ballot. A few brief instructions later, I walked over to the machine and slid the voting card into the designated slot. Bingo! The lights came on and the contraption acted like it was happy it had something to do. The voting slate was listed on the page in nice bold print. To vote for my choice, I merely had to touch the screen and my vote was taken.
After reading the list of candidates over and over again before casting my vote, I couldn’t find the name of one particular candidate. The election judge noted my consternation and asked if I needed help.
I replied, “Yes, I don’t find the name of my candidate anywhere.”
She came to my aid and quietly advised that if the name was not on the ballot, I could use the write-in privilege.
“Ok. Thank you.” I mumbled and began writing.
Halfway into it, I drew a blank. Again the judge asked if I needed assistance.
“Yes, I do.” I responded, smiling grimly.
She approached me again and asked what the problem was.
“I have forgotten how to spell Punxsutawney Phil.”
Flushing profusely, she turned and walked back to her table. I swear I heard her mutter, “Grrr!”