Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Primary Colors, 2008

It's 9 p.m., and I just got back from voting in Montgomery County (Maryland) Precinct 13-32. Earlier today, Perry and I had agreed to go vote when he got off work at 7 p.m. Before we could vote, frozen rain had covered our steps and sidewalks. The conditions were really treacherous. I turned on WAMU (Yeah, yeah, yeah...) and Kojo Nnamdi reported that the Maryland polls had been extended from 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. My moment of opportunity was upon me!

I got on my hiking boots, bundled up in my wool car coat, slung my Modelo scarf (I am a gay man, after all) around my neck, and slogged off to my polling place, about three-quarters of a mile from my home. It was a dark and stormy night - rain falling on ice, and the temperature a few degrees below freezing. With my trusty boots, I did not slip, slide, or slither (there should be an activity named after that).

The parking lot at the elementary school where the polling was held was nearly empty. When I wandered into the polling location, judges outnumbered voters about two to one. One of the problems with electronic voting is that it follows some pre-programmed rules. The voting machines shut off at 8 p.m., and the judges did not have any paper ballots, provisional or otherwise, for those of us who showed up late.

The judges were able to check us in, and then harkening back to elections we held in the sixth grade, we were handed a blank piece of paper on which a judge had written a ballot ID, and we walked over to a sample ballot on the wall, then wrote the office and the name of our choices on the blank piece of paper. I was very careful with my spelling. I signed a provisional ballot form, and a couple of other pieces of paper, sealed my ballot in a provisional envelope, and deposited it in the provisional ballot box.

I have no idea whether my vote will actually be counted, considering that I was voting a handwritten ballot, but I think it will be. My hat goes off to the election judges of Precinct 13-32 who were working under difficult conditions, but were eager to help, and full of smiles after a very long day in a school cafeteria.