Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I have now come to the conclusion as to why more people don't vote -- we can't find our polling locations. And when we do find them, they are staffed by morons.

I woke up this morning a little earlier than normal because I was going to head to the gym to do my workout but I was going to vote as well so I wanted to make sure that if there was a line that I would have plenty of time to do both since I have rugby practice tonight and wouldn't be back in time to vote before the polls closed. So, I'm all dolled up ready to go to the gym and I head into the polling place where I voted last time but I'm not so sure of which district or precinct or whatever I'm supposed to vote in so they look me up in the address listing and tell me that my polling place has been moved and I no longer vote there.

This polling place, mind you, is HALF A BLOCK from where I live. My new polling place is over four blocks away opposite the direction of the nearest subway. So I ask them to double check and make sure of where I am voting and they say that they are positive that I am to vote at the other precinct even though they are just half a block from my apartment.

So I trudge up to the other polling place which I couldn't find at first because the street numbers abruptly stopped where the polling place logically would have been. Thankfully, one of the candidate's supporters pointed me to the right building and I made my way in and headed over to the registrar's table and tell them my story and the woman looks at me and says, "Ooooh. I don't think you're supposed to vote here." At this point, I have to take a moment to calm myself down and not lash out at people because it's too early in the morning to get really pissy with people. I head over to another table where they look up my address and, thankfully, this time she points me to the machine that I am to use. I hand the guy at the table my ID with my name on it and he starts to look me up in the book.

I am not in their book.

He then asks me to spell my last name which I do. Then he asks me to show him my ID again in case he heard it wrong which he didn't because he spelled it back to me correctly after I gave it to him the first time. Finally he asked who had the address guide to which I said in a voice heavy with exasperation that two other people have already confirmed my address and that this is where I am to vote. However, this falls on deaf ears as he waddles over to the woman who just checked my address five minutes ago. Finally, they decide that I can still vote but I have to fill out an affidavit ballot which is nothing more than a paper ballot. They hand me an envelope and a guide to my voter's rights and have me fill it out which I do.

I return to the table and I hand the guy the envelope and he says that I have to "fill everything out, fold it, put it in the envelope, and seal it" before he can accept it.

"Put WHAT in the envelope? I filled out everything you gave me!" I said, my voice even more imbued with exasperation.

At this point, they realize they never gave me the ballot to fill out. I head back to the table to fill out the TWO elections (all of this for TWO elections) that I could vote in and the woman at the main table asked me if I had moved recently or made any address changes. I explained to her that the board of elections office had my address wrong and I corrected it.

She smiled and said, "Well that must be it," with a tone that said, "You fucking moron."

I returned with, "Yeah, I moved the address even closer to the polling location I voted at last time," with a tone that said, "You fucking bitch, I know what the hell I'm talking about." I looked her in the eyes and said, "Apparently no one really wants me to vote today."

So I marked my two boxes and turn in my ballot and shook my head at how amazing stupid this entire process has been today. The people at my district desk thought the entire thing was rather funny and I responded with, "Yeah, wasting an hour of my morning has really been a lot of fun."

They stopped laughing.

If I didn't make it my personal responsibility to vote and make sure that my voice as an elector was taken seriously then I probably would not have voted today or maybe ever again. When I got to the office today, I called the Vote NYC office to find out if it had all been a big mistake on the part of the people at the polls.

It wasn't.

Apparently, the Board of Elections never got my address right the first or second time that it was submitted (the second time was to correct the first submission). And, even though my address moved CLOSER to the polling location, it also moved me out of my old district and into a new one. Technically, I "moved" across the street but that was more than enough to put me into another polling place altogether. The reason why the other place didn't have me in their rolls was because they still had my old address on the books which would have allowed me to vote at the place half a block from my house.

Now I totally understand why some people don't vote. It's not that we don't care or don't want to but it's the moron's running the asylum that make it frustrating to make our voice heard in the system.
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