I would go into the giant seafoam green voting booth with Mom or Dad, they'd draw the privacy curtain, and they'd let me press buttons on the marvelous machine that would help choose the next president. A hush fell over that small space as the heavy curtain material quieted the hubbub of the waiting room, and the only noise was the satisfying click of the buttons as my little fingers pressed them. And best of all was the giant metal lever that I got to pull to reset the machine to keep my parents' votes a secret from everyone else.
I can't say that I quite expected that same magical experience when I voted today, but I did expect maybe ten percent of that magic.
I didn't even get one percent.
Since I had rehearsals starting at 9am, I was at my polling location by 6:30am. Of the two initial greeters, one was helping someone else, and the other did NOT look like she wanted to help me. She gave me the bored-slash-annoyed stare of a teenager who is on the last ten minutes of her shift at Blockbuster and desperately wants to shut down the joint and hop in the car with her new boyfriend who just got his night license. Um, didn't you volunteer to be here, lady? And it's only 6:30am. If you hate life now, you're gonna hate it a lot more by 9.
Of course, she couldn't find my address listed in her book and suggested I was at the wrong location. Luckily, I brought my postcard that said I was most certainly in the right place. She begrudgingly shepherded me to one of three district lines.
Based on her reaction, I had zero confidence I was in the right line, so I grew antsy when the volunteer running this new line seemed slooooooooowwwwwww. There were only four people ahead of me, but it must have taken over ten minutes for her to process them. When I got to the front of the line, I could see why.
They were a good two to three inches long--so long they started curving downward in that creepy way that you just know can't be sanitary. They were freshly painted. Lime green on the right, purple on the left. Oh yeah, and she was a lefty. It's not that I think left-handed people are slow, but she seemed to be moving in that way that lefties do when someone makes them use a pair of righty scissors in school. On second thought, her only instruments were paper and pen, which are equal opportunity items, so I'm back to blaming the nails for the holdup.
She handed me my giant paper ballot in a manilla folder, which I took to the "voting booths," which were more like small podiums with an empty diorama on top. Almost like a much cheaper version of the Jeopardy set. The dividers were cardboard, and I'll be shocked if they're sturdy enough to make it to the end of the day. And anyone could easily look over and see the items I bubbled in on my Scantron form. It felt way more like taking a test than voting for our nation's president. Where was the curtain? Where was the satisfying clicking noise? Where was the glamour, the romance??? Where????
I next had to walk to some video game-looking machine and feed my "ballot" into it, sort of the way you feed paper into a Xerox machine. (There were no signs telling me to do this, mind you. I could easily have left my ballot there and walked away.) I got a happy little flag on the screen with a "Thank You for Voting!" message, which was the only bright spot of the entire event.
And to top off my misery, THERE WERE NO STICKERS!!!!!
I mean, come on, people. I got a sticker in 2008. Where's the 2012 version? This is America. And as Americans, we deserve rewards for absolutely everything we do. I mean, credit card companies reward us for spending money, for crying out loud! I need my voting reward! STAT.
I didn't get it, sadly. And as I stumbled out into the cold air, I sighed for myself and for America, knowing that it will be another four years before my faith in our voting system can be restored.
So in 2016, BRING BACK THE STICKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, for a little more of the romance, check out my images of Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center!
|This map magically appeared on the ice overnight! They'll color in states tonight...|
|Front view. Check out all the cameras.|
|News anchors report from inside these multicolored treehouse-looking things.|
|Here's all the equipment the networks try to camouflage. Unfortunately, it makes everything more difficult to see if you're actually there in person.|