Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Provisional Pam

Justin and I woke up extra early this morning to head to our designated polling place. I have never voted in Ohio before and I was curious about how different it would be from my voting experiences in South Carolina and Illinois. Our polling place was not in a very convenient location. It was at some hall in some strange little neighborhood a couple of miles away. The parking lot wasn't full so things were looking good.

We walked into the hall and there were only two people in front of us. In front of them were four women discussing the fact that the person's address was different than the address listed in the voters registration book and there seemed to be a lot of confusion about it. I knew at that point that I was in trouble since I still have an Illinois drivers license. Just in cast I had brought my pay stub with my current address for verification. I was hoping there would not be a problem but I was wrong!

When it was my turn I handed the lady my license and she called over to another lady who was walking around frantically. The frantic lady took my license. I told her that I had a my paycheck stub with my current address on it. She took my paycheck and asked if it was recent and proceeded to open it. I grabbed it back from her because my financial information is none of her business and told her the stub was dated 10/10/08. One of the ladies found me in her book but the other ladies said I was not listed in their book. Apparently their book was more important because it had each voters signature.

The frantic lady said that because I was not in the book I would have to fill out a provisional ballot and to follow her. I started asking why, if I registered the same time my fiance did, was I not in the book. He was in it... why not me? I asked why I had to fill out a provisional ballot and the frantic lady looked at me and said "Don't question it!"

Um... what? All I could think about was "Wasn't it Ohio that fucked up part of the election in 2004?"

The frantic lady handed me two very long ballots and two envelopes and told me to go sit at a table and fill out the ballot. I was pissed! Justin was already in the process of doing his electronic ballot. When he was done he came over to see what I was up to and to say goodbye since he had to take off for work. I proceeded to take my anger regarding the disorganization out on all those little circles I had to color in! I don't think there has ever been a better filled in ballot in the State of Ohio!

When I was done with my ballot I went back up to the table and said to the four ladies "She (while I pointed at the frantic lady sitting a few feet away) told me not to question it, but I want an explanation of why I have to fill out a provisional ballot that won't be counted and why am I not in the book!" The one girl looked at me and said "I don't know... what is your name again?" I told her my last name for the fourth time and she opened her book again... the important book with the signatures. She flipped through pages and all of the sudden I saw something I recognized. My signature!!! I pointed to the signature and said "That is me!" she said "Oh... you are in the book after all!"

Really? So I said "I have wasted my time filling out this ballot because you simply overlooked me in the book??!! I was livid!!

At that time the frantic lady came over and said "what's wrong?" and the girl pointed in the book and said "this is her... she's in the book and you made her fill out a provisional ballot." The frantic lady said "Oh, you can just give me that and we will file it for you" and I told her that I will be voting electronically and not with a provisional ballot. She said I still had to give her the ballot because she had to turn it in to the Board of Elections. I told her it had my private information on it, including my voting preferences and that I didn't feel comfortable giving it to her. She assured me that it would be confidential. Yeah, right.

I finally made it to the voting booth, cast my vote and left the polling place in disgust. How many other people did they do this to that DIDN'T question it? Those provisional ballots won't be counted and God knows where my paper ballot went!

So, I'm sitting here watching the returns. The last two elections have made me skeptical and I have been trying hard to not be too optimistic. I hear friends bitch, whine and moan and get on soap boxes about both candidates. I keep reminding myself that there is no perfect candidate so I must choose between what is handed to me.

It is what it is.

In my eyes those people that are bitching really don't do shit to better the country. All they do is complain in an elitist manner with a holier than thou attitude. Ugh. Get over yourself and be positive about something for once instead of constantly raining on everyone's fucking parade. We've had enough bad news over the last eight years. How do you live with yourself in such a constant pessimistic and miserable state? It must really suck!

I am happy that for once I live in a state where my vote actually counts. I want nothing more than to wake up tomorrow morning with good news! My 40th birthday falls on Inauguration Day and I can't imagine a better present than seeing Barack Obama being sworn into office. Hell, I might even take the day off!

Ohio, by far, was the most unorganized place I have voted in 22 years but I'm glad just to have the opportunity and privilege to vote. It is most definitely something I do not take for granted. Unorganized or not, I'm excited and filled with hope for change.

Thanks for voting everyone! Good luck with whomever your candidate is!

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