I sat in the car, staring at the torn piece of paper in my hands.
It was my election cheat sheet.
Some people are very involved in local politics.
I am not.
But, a maximum of a week before elections, I start doing some research.
Or, truthfully, Skye starts doing some research.
Then, the night before an election, I steal said research.
(It’s a delicate give and take.)
While reading my possibilities, I realized I’d forgotten to jot down the name of my choice for sheriff.
There’s been quite a local kerfuffle over retirement funds, accusations and incredibly strange policies.
Hence, I’ve decided to support the candidate who I think seems least jerk-y.
(Aren’t you glad my vote counts?)
I frantically called Skye to ask the name, only she was on a work call.
Standing in the short line just inside the door of the nearby elementary school, a volunteer came over and, after asking my name, directed me to the empty table on the other side of the auditorium.
(There are benefits to having a last name at the end of the alphabet.)
(Well, there’s a benefit.)
I took a few steps before realizing I was cutting through the other lane’s pathways, causing a man in a wheelchair to jerk to a stop.
I stopped momentarily, which only delayed everyone a second longer, then continued onto my table, apologetically saying “sorry, I’m not good at lines.”
I figure there’s a 40% chance the election official was laughing with me, so I consider that a win.
After triple verifying my address, guaranteeing any serial killers standing nearby knew where to head to and hide for the coming night, the man looked up at me, asking “Do you want to use a machine or fill in the circles by hand?”
I glanced around and saw multiple stations for hand-filling and only one machine.
“Huh,” I figured, “there must have been some strange backlash against mechanical voting machines and now there’s a trend back toward hand-filled ballots.”
I’m not one to go against the election bandwagon, so I said “hand ballot – it’ll be like taking a school test again!”
As I grabbed the ballot and walked forward, I noticed the rows of machines, filled with people.
I sat down at the provided desks, the only person choosing to fill in the little election circles with the provided pen.
(Apparently, years of teachers assuring me machines only read #2 pencils were just a story of lie after lie.)
(Or my votes didn’t actually count, which, considering what’s coming up, would be just tragically humorous.)
I filled in all the candidates except for sheriff, then stared down at the form, desperately searching my brain for the name of my preferred choice.
I considered guessing but then just couldn’t live with guessing the wrong person. I considered not voting in that category but then just couldn’t live with not symbolically punishing the person I think is jerkiest. I considered sitting there ’til the name magically appeared in my mind but then remembered from actual school tests that magic never works when you need it to.
There was only one possible solution.
I turned toward an election official standing next to the submission machine. “Could you tell me who the incumbent sheriff is?”
The man, who, joking aside, was named Borat, was probably shocked at being asked a question and responded “there’s only two men running.”
“Yes, could you tell me the incumbent?”
He identified one of the names on the list who I sincerely hope was truly the incumbent.
I quickly filled in my last circle, then placed my ballot in the provided folder and walked up to Borat’s station.
I stared at the machine for a second before holding out the folder towards Borat.
“You don’t put the folder in,” he quickly informed me.
I’d known at least that much – I just hadn’t figured I was suppose to put my ballot in myself and had been handing off my folder. Though I understand having confusion over whether I was smart enough to know not to try to stuff a folder down the calculating contraption.
(Known, to some, as the ballot box.)
I took out my ballot and went to slide it down the slot as Borat asked “did you fill out the back?”
“…didn’t know there was a back,” I sheepishly responded as I flipped the ballot over and started frantically filling in the additional bubbles while still standing there.
Thankfully, there was no one waiting as there’d still yet to be another citizen to choose the hand voting method.
“Probably should have just done the electronic voting, huh?” I said to Borat, trying to stop the blush engulfing my face.
“They’re both the same,” he responded.
“No, I meant because I’m too stupid to figure out the paper… you know what, never mind.”
I slunk out of the room as quickly as possible, vowing to move before next year’s election.
At least I still got my sticker,
MeganElection Shame 2011 (Or How I Embarrassed Myself at My Polling Station and Possibly Mis-Voted)