2004-3-3 12:4 a.m.

El Suburb Gets Out The Vote

Two elections ago, in my old voting precinct, people were lined up halfway down the block outside our polling place waiting to vote. The polls officially closed at 8 but anyone who was in line by then was not turned away. So we stood in the cold for nearly an hour, then put our votes in on the new electronic voting machines. (As a district in the most densely populated neighborhood in the biggest city in the county, we got stuff like that before other places -- though with all the controversy over the electronic voting machines, I'm not sure if that's a good thing.)

Fast forward to yesterday, when I voted for the first time in the city in which I now own an actual house on actual land, a smallish quasi-urban city I will refer to from here on out as El Suburb. I showed up at my new polling place, the church hall at St. Joseph's United Presbypiscopal Methodist Somethingorother. It was 5:30, which should be rush hour at the polling place. I walked in and was handed a paper ballot in a hard plastic "privacy case" and a pen without a cap. The poll workers (representative of the many, many senior citizens of El Suburb) outnumbered the voters (me) by 4 to 1.

Me: Isn't there supposed to be an election today? Where is everybody?

Elderly El Suburban Poll Worker: We've been waiting for you to show up.

I marked my ballot (having bad flashbacks to the seemingly endless rounds of standardized testing we were subject to in the California school system), tore off my primitive paper ballot stubs and handed the privacy case back to the poll worker, who dropped my ballot in the ballot box. The ballot box at my old precinct was an impressive steel number with latches that could take your finger off and labeled with dire warnings about interfering with the democratic process. The ballot box in El Suburb? Cardboard.

Cardboard. No wonder voting is for old people.

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