Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day!

This morning began around 6:30 am when Rusty decided it was time for people to get up. He did his usual trick of jumping loudly beside the bed. When that got no response, he jumped up on the bed and began licking Onkel Hankie Pants's ears and face. Shortly thereafter they went out for their morning walk and I heard Heidi meowing to come out of the basement. So I got up and made some coffee. Not much could be accomplished before 8 am except showering, feeding the dog, and drinking coffee. I was therefore surprised to note someone coming to the door about 7:45, at least two hours too early to be the mailcarrier. Instead, of course, it was this:
At about 5 minutes past eight, I departed the house on my way to Union St. School, our polling place (about two short blocks away). On the way I met Quaker Cousin, who had already voted -- she said she was 35th in line when the polls opened!
Union St. School, while it was once the neighborhood elementary school for those who didn't attend St. John's Parochial School, is now the Alternative High School and also houses the Superintendent's office. I've already voted there several times since we moved back to Maine, so I was expecting this sign:
Entrance to the addition where voting takes place is gained by a wooden ramp used by all, whatever our state of mobility. The line was all the way down the ramp, and I spotted my niece, Polar Bear Artist, a few people away from the doorway. She called to me that I was in luck because the judges were looking for people with surnames beginning M-Z, and sure enough, as I neared the ramp a judge came out and I was able to walk right in ! For some reason our district (a town division rather like a precinct) includes two State legislative districts, so one judge asks your name and checks you off, then announces it loudly with the addition of "66" or "63." I got my two ballots and went to the booth. We still use paper ballots in Maine, thank goodness; a marking pen is provided to connect two halves of an arrow next to the chosen candidates. I found only one surprise on the ballot; there were two open seats on the County Charter Commission, and two people running for them. As a reward for their civic-mindedness I voted for them.
The other night I was talking with The Photographer after a candidates' night (Town Council) that her neighborhood association sponsored, and she mentioned a concern about the ballots that I thought at the time was unlikely to be a problem. In Maine, the Presidential candidates are listed alphabetically, and the Vice-Presidential candidates are not listed at all. Our choices were, in alphabetical order, McCain, McKinney (Green), Nader, and Obama. Then there was a line with an arrow next to it in case someone wanted to cast a write-in vote. The Photographer said some people casting absentee ballots had been confused by this and filled in two arrows, invalidating their votes. Lo and behold, just while I was in the polling place, two people did this! However, since the ballot-counting machine immediately rejected their ballots, they were able to get new ones and correct their mistakes. Onkel Hankie Pants, who voted later in the day, reported that a note had been taped to each voting desk explaining that only one vote could be cast for each office (except the aforementioned charter commission).
Anyway, I didn't make any mistakes, and I got my sticker:
On the way out, I stopped to take a picture of the line; my niece had just stepped into the building! I don't know why our district has such a preponderance of people whose names begin with A-L.
Now I'm suffering a bit because it's only 5:30 and the election news doesn't start on MPBN until 7:00. I did enjoy the early reports from Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, the two tiny New Hampshire towns who vote just after midnight. Both towns, which went for Bush in 2004, voted about 2-1 for Obama.
I downloaded the widget from MSNBC, but in my sidebar (at least on Chrome) it cuts off New England. You can see a bigger version on Reflectionary. By the way, Southern friends, why do the polls close so early down your way?

1 comment:

Onkel Hankie Pants said...

I know this sounds contradictory, but my ballot, completed by me in that same voting place, contained the names of all four vice presidential candidates! Did Auntie Knickers still have sleepy seeds in her eyes when she voted? Was there an experiment going on to see whether listing the VP candidates made any difference? Did they call out our names and legislative districts for the benefit of partisan "poll guardians"? Oh, isn't Maine an interesting place?