I had been so concerned about the possibly of long lines because I have a very bad back, and I just can't stand on a line for any length of time. And where I live, we do not have early voting and we normally have about a 90% turnout in a presidential election, so I was expecting the worst. One of our small local papers even suggested that people bring beach chairs, so that they could sit down if they were stuck on a line for hours.
Boy, did I get a delightful surprise...I was in and out of the polling place in under 10 minutes.
The polls opened at 6am and I was at the polling place at 6:50. I found a parking spot right outside the door to the building (our community recreation center). There was a steady stream of people entering and leaving. There were about five Election Districts voting in one large room, with each ED having one voting machine. We still use the old-fashioned mechanical booths--you pull a handle to close the curtain and you pull down levers over each candidate's name to cast your ballot. This makes voting very fast--average time in the booth seemed to be about 15 seconds. There were only about 8-10 people on each of the lines to vote, and no lines to sign in before voting. Everything was calm, orderly, and moved along quickly--just as it usually is around here. I live in a relatively small residential suburban community of one family homes, so there is no great density of people turning out the polls, except between 5pm-9pm after people come home from work. I did not see any younger people, or people who appeared to be first time voters.
What surprised me was the lack of sample ballots available for people to look at. There was only one on the sign-in table when they really should have had a stack of them. They also did not have a little mini version of the ballot inside the voting booth, including the levers, so that they could show first time voters how to use the machine if they had any questions. Perhaps there was one elsewhere on another sign-in table. Had they had more sample ballots I might have taken one and realized there were propositions on the ballot. I also hadn't had time to look through my daily paper before I went to vote because they did mention the propositions. So, I just missed the propositions completely because I didn't look for them when I was in the booth and I just hadn't heard anything about them beforehand.
I guess there were at least 10 parties listed on the ballot. I glanced at the list but was mainly focused on the top two lines of the major parties.
I understand this is the last year we will be using those old-fashioned voting booths. I'm sorry about that, I really like them. They do break down once in a while, but not very often, and they do make voting very fast and easy.
There is nothing under the sun that would ever keep me from voting. I have voted in every general election, and every primary, since I have been eligible to vote. And I must say, I still find it an exciting experience to cast my ballot--and this year it was even more so because I was truly enthusistic about my vote for president. I have never doubted whether my vote matters, nor should anyone.
It's rather neat that some retailers are giving freebees to people who have voted--Starbucks is giving a free cup of coffee, Baskin Robbins is giving a free cup of ice cream, and a local resturant has a coupon in today's paper for $5 off a $10 order to anyone who simply says they have voted today. I didn't need an incentive to vote, but I might go out to that restaurant for lunch, and stop by at Baskin Robbins for some ice cream on my way home.