Laura Ingraham was having fun on her radio show over Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's announcement of the helpful new phone number 1-888-DEM-VOTE. He urged anyone with "irregularities" in voting to call the number to report the problems. So Laura's listeners tried calling the number, and most of them were transferred to somewhere that disconnected their call.
Well, I had irregularities at my polling place this morning, but I didn't bother to call the Dems to come investigate.
For starters, I vote in the sanctuary of the Methodist or Lutheran church down the street. It's nice to come in the doors and see a banner hanging on the wall declaring, "Christ is King!" I'm sure the Dems would find that very irregular, but I find comfort in it, along with a perverse pleasure that all the voters in my precinct--even the atheists--will be seeing that message as well.
I got there about ten minutes after they opened. The head precinct worker was new since last time. The voting machines were new since last time. They were having "challenges" with some of the machines.
Normally, there's one person who finds my name in the spiral-bound book and has me sign the book beside my name. Then there's a second person who looks me up in another book by address and makes a check-mark to show I've been there. Then I'm handed my ballot or voting gizmo and sent off to vote, with instructions on what to do when I've finished.
Not this time. This time the guy in charge seemed frazzled. He only had one book, in which he found my name and had me sign. Most of the voting booths were being used, and two of the precinct workers each had a machine with a gray plastic cover open while they tried doing something to make it workable. It looked like a long wait, and I saw some paper ballots on the table, the kind where you fill in the bubbles with black ink. I figured I knew how to operate a paper ballot, so I asked for one of them, because there was no telling how long it would take me to vote using the machine.
While I was voting, using an unoccupied voting machine as a hard surface for filling in my bubbles, the worker at the machine next to me was asking another worker if it was OK to power the machine down and back up, because the machine was stuck somewhere and wouldn't let her do anything, and their training on the machines hadn't said what to do in that case. I never heard what they decided, because I finished with my bubbles, folded my ballot in half as instructed, and got my "I Voted" sticker. There were five or six people waiting for a machine as I walked out.
At work, my office-mate said it took her 45 minutes to finish voting on the new machine, that has a knob you turn until you see your preferred candidate or Yes/No option highlighted, and then you push a button. She said she had to select "Cast Ballot" three times before she was finished--once when she finished, then again after it showed her two pages of what her votes would be, then one more time after it printed two pages of hardcopy with her votes. After all that, it let her be done voting. But the woman who went to vote at the machine next to her said, "The man who was here before me didn't finish voting." He must not have realized that "Cast Ballot" didn't really mean "Cast Ballot." Silly man.
So when you see the results from California, don't expect them to be final. The Democratic leadership will probably insult their base by declaring them too stupid to know how to vote properly with the new machines (which were prompted by the stupidity of Democrats over the butterfly ballot in Florida in 2000). Then they'll file a lawsuit, claiming the machines were designed for smart people (Republicans) and ask that the voting be thrown out or that butterfly ballots be used instead, or that the military vote should be suppressed, or something.
May the best people win.
Check out the post at Malott's Blog on Voting in a Tiny Town.