Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voting Stories

And here's your Election Day voting stories thread. 

Sorry to be repetitive, and I know that many regular commenters here have already responded, but: I love voting stories, and I'd love to hear yours.  How many different positions/questions did you have on your ballot?  What was the goofiest or most obscure office?  How did you go about choosing candidates in obscure, non-partisan contests, if you had any of those?

So far, the longest ballot anyone has reported in the previous threads had 43 choices, in Denver; the shortest, in Wisconsin, had only 10.  Goofiest ballot question is the ET one, also in Denver.  Can anyone top those?


  1. I voted early last week and discovered that I am the sketchiest voter of all time.

    I've lived in DC for six years, but I've never gotten a DC ID, so all I have is my NY driver's license. I didn't bring a bill in my name or anything that could identify me as a DC resident, so the poll workers asked me to verify my address. Hilariously enough, I moved recently and never updated my registration, so the address I gave didn't match the address they had on file. I got it right on the second try, though.

    Despite it all, I was still able to vote. I guess they're not worried about people stuffing the ballot box for the uncontested Mayoral race or the race to be DC's non-voting House delegate.

    I used the electronic touch-screen voting machines, as I usually do when I vote in DC. I had previously looked up the names of the folks running for the neighborhood and city councils and seen their webpages, so I had a pretty good idea of where they stood on the issues. There was only one ballot initiative--to make the Attorney General an elected position, instead of being appointed by the Mayor--and it was clearly explained.

    By voting early, there were no lines and, besides the problems I caused for myself, no complications.

  2. Voted for CT Governor, Senator, State Senate, State Rep, Attorney General, Secretary of the State, Treasurer, Comptroller, Registrar of Voters and Probate Judge. They all had party info, and the Probate Judge position, which of course I have no relevant information on at all, was unopposed. Ten on the ballot, no questions or propositions. Oh, and the Lt. Governor doesn't get its own slot--eleven position, but only ten little ovals to fill in.

    Standing just outside the line at my polling place was one of my favorite local pols holding signs for Dems--including for the fellow who beat him in the State Rep primary in August. Attaman!


  3. My wife and I voted before work, probably about 7:05 this morning. The polling place was pretty crowded even by then. As we don't share last names, we had separate lines. Mine, staffed by someone competent, was empty; hers, not so competently-staffed, had a long line.

    I voted quickly - the governor's race here in Ohio is tight, and the only other race I cared much about (and not already decided) was the Library levy. Columbus consistently has one of the top public libraries in the country, a real local treasure.

    I was at work by 7:20.

  4. Just voted in Central IL. A good turnout, but quick line. Poll workers said it has been busy all morning.

    Nothing too drastic with the ballot other than voting for the same Senate Seat twice--once to fill the unexpired Burris term and then the full term. I thought about splitting my vote b/c it would be funny if one candiate won the Lame Duck session seat and a different candidate won the full term, but decided against it.

    Also, got to vote against the WORST Gov. recall constitutional amendment ever. Forget that the ACLU said it's probably unconstitutional, it also requires the State Legislature (bipartisan support at that) to approve the recall petition! Not exactly direct democracy.

  5. I voted in DC, and most of the ballot was pretty easy (I follow local politics pretty closely, so I knew who to vote for in Council and Mayoral races, and the one ballot initiative was clear; I voted no on making the Attorney General an elected position, on the grounds that we vote for too damn many people already). The races I found problematic were school board and ANC. I frantically googled endorsements from my favorite local blog during my 5-minute wait in line and made an almost-completely-uninformed vote on that basis alone.

  6. Just voted in Maine. Straight Democratic for all offices; none were non-partisan.

    There were three local measures, about which I knew nothing. From the wording of the measures, I got the sense that the vote was the final step for a process started by the local leadership, so I voted "yes" in deference to their presumed greater knowledge of local issues.

    I voted for all the bond state measures, including for the casino. I'm pretty libertarian on casinos.

  7. I'm in Maine's CD 2. Rural, paper ballots.

    Governor, Rep, state rep, state senator, then 5 county positions (judge of probate, county treasurer, registrar of deeds, sheriff, DA and county commissioner) only one of which was contested (the DA).

    3 state questions (allow a casino in Oxford county, and 2 bond questions).

    One town question (moratorium on wind power installations).

    Turnout looked pretty high. I will be counting votes tonight, which is a royal pain, especially when you want to be home yelling at the TV.

  8. I just voted in Chicago--in West Lakeview, which my neighbor calls Yuppieville, so no sign of Tea Partiers with Please ID me buttons.

    We had a rather long ballot--in addition to the obvious ones (Quinn/Brady, Gianoulias/Kirk, etc.) and some other local (Chicago and Cook County) offices, we got to vote for 65 judges for the Cook County courts. On the latter, despite my misgivings, I went with the Tribune endorsements--no on 4 (on grounds of general contempt for the public), yes on the rest. Not a very satisfying way of choosing who to vote for, I realize.

    One curiosity--the senate race was listed twice at the top of the ballot, because of the lawsuit challenging Blago's appointment of Roland Burris. The guy feeding my ballot into the machine seemed confused about why they were both listed. You'd think they would have briefed the pol-workers on what's on the ballot.

  9. Got to my polling place around 6:45 AM. At that time in 2008, I was about the 100th person in line. Today, I was #3. Worse, my county has gone from electronic to paper ballots - which, ceteris paribus, should have made this year's queue longer.

    I came away thinking that the turnout might be dreadfully low this year, which would spell even bigger trouble for the Democrats, though a perusal of the media suggests that my precinct just kind of sucks.

    (BTW - totally agree with the sentiment at the open about how great Election Day is. I love voting. I know my vote doesn't matter, but I love the process. The civic engagement, the climactic moment of the campaign season, the ephemeral feeling of power over politicians - which power shifts back to the winner, of course - its all good. I love it.)

  10. I can beat the previous winner, but not the Chicago guy. I voted in urban Minneapolis, in a deep blue precinct. The line was surprisingly long and quite young at around 7:30am. But my neighborhood is mostly hipsters and yuppies, very young and liberal.

    Anyway, we had the usual state wide offices, plus a ballot initiative on redistricting and 30 judges, most of whom were unopposed. Total races: 44. The most esoteric office we got to vote for was the county soil and water commission. It's not partisan and I would normally leave it blank, but as it turns out, I met one of the candidates last week at a reunion for an activist group I used to work for. I was able to make a semi-informed choice on that office! I still don't really know what they do, though.

    So yeah. Another example of democracy run amok. Judicial elections are a joke.

  11. Well, I can beat the low count of 10 - just got back from my polling place, a whopping 5 choices on the ballot for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania - Governor (plus Lt Gov, not separately voted on), US Senate (Sestak/Toomey race), US Rep, State Senator, State Rep. That's it, no third-party candidates, no local offices, no ballot measures, nothing. Mid-afternoon voter count was up to 260 which i think is good for this location for a non-presidential election.

  12. I voted last week - here in the suburbs of Denver, we had a relatively svelte ballot with 42 choices, as opposed to the 43 in Denver proper. About a dozen constitutional initiatives, some of which were completely nutty - no local government will be allowed to borrow money unless the voters approve it! - but I voted them all down. That's why we have legislators, to make laws.

    We had a nice little blue booklet with bios on all the candidates for judge (must have been 20 or so). By having the mail-in ballot at home, I was able to take my time and try to read between the lines to figure out who was a Democrat and who was a Republican. I figure anyone who started out in the public defender's office is probably a Dem.

  13. I early voted by mail (in CA), and miss the public ritual aspect of going to the polls, which didn't keep me from early voting.

    Not quite on topic, except as it relates to anecdotal evidence of turnout: A quick glance through Google News "voter turnout" shows the great majority of results, mostly local papers or TV, reporting heavy or at least 'steady' turnout.

    Of course I would like to hope that turnout will up-end all those likely voter models, but I seem to recall from elections past that Election Day reporting often reports heavy turnout even when their wasn't. Has anyone studied this sort of thing?

  14. I voted this morning in Oak Park, IL, a suburb of Chicago. (I see two Illinois commenters above. Plain Blog is huge in Illinois!)

    I count 103 votes on my ballot. Here's the breakdown:

    Federal -- 3
    Two Senate votes (see IL commenters above)
    and one Congressional vote.

    State -- 7

    County -- 7

    Metropolitan Water Reclamation District -- 3
    8 candidates listed, vote for 3.

    Judicial elections -- 12
    11 candidates are Democrats running
    unopposed. This is Cook County; the
    competition was in the primary. Only
    1 contested race.

    Judicial retention -- 69
    My favorite part! Keep Judge Hall? Keep
    Judge White? Keep Judge O'Brien? Etc, etc,
    etc for two pages. I voted with the Plain
    Blog Caucus -- no on the 4 judges that the
    Chicago Tribune doesn't like.

    Referendum -- 2
    One proposed amendment to the state
    constitution. I voted no, with the rest of
    the Plain Blog Caucus. One Oak Park
    advisory referendum. This is a classic.

    "Shall the Village of Oak Park require those who inject vaccines, in the Village of Oak Park, to give the vaccine recipients, their parents or guardians the vaccine manufacturer's specific package inserts of the vaccines they will receive, and to inform them that, thimerosal/mercury-containing vaccines, including but not limited to, influenza (flu), meningococcal (meningitis) and tetanus vaccines, may contain 3½ times the daily toxic dose of mercury exposure for an 148-pound adult?"

    A local vaccine skeptic collected the 15 necessary signatures to put this question on the ballot. (Yes, I said 15!) I can't wait to see if it passes.

  15. A piddly 40 choices to make here in North Orange County (of course, a good 10 or so of those were judges).

    Showed up to deposit my absentee ballot in person around noon. 1 person was on the machines, 2 were casting provisional ballots, and one was signing in. My precinct is not particularly large, and is majority Latino, and a good 50/50 mix of apartment vs homes.

  16. I'm at 38 for West Seattle.

    One weirdness is lots of judicial candidates with only one person on the ballot.

    Mailed it off last week. Today is a total anticlimax here, since voting started two weeks ago. (Personal note: I'm on a crusade to crush the use of the phrase "early voting." There's nothing "early" about it any more. Election day is just "last date to have your ballot postmarked day.")

  17. Voted early in Chicago. It was actually pretty busy for a Tuesday afternoon last week.

    My ballot pretty much mirrored the other Chicagoans, so I'll just throw out a few things that struck my fancy...

    -Voted No on the recall amendment, but awfully pessimistic about it. Given the Blago mess, it must seem really tempting, and I've seen NO kind of ad or info campaign that could talk people out of it.

    -Voted the same way on both sets of IL-SEN (Go Alexi! Please?). But I wonder if that might give enough people a release valve in the tension between not liking Republicans ('cause most voters in this state really don't) and being pissed at Democrats (Which most voters are). I honestly don't expect the results to split...but I guess I could see it (Didn't something kinda similar happen for Tom DeLay's old seat?) I suppose, were that to happen, I'd want Alexi to win the first one- passing DADT repeal and START are high priorities for me, whereas I don't even know what legislation will be coming up after January.

    -Voted yes on ALL judges. Yeah, the ones the Trib (And the CBA) knocked are terrible, but I couldn't remember them all, and my justification was I don't think we should be voting for judges anyway, so I'm just going to ratify my betters' choices.

    -My favorite race was for County Assessor- a three way where the independent has a legitimate shot. But why does the indy have a shot? 'Cause he's really a Dem, he was a Dem, Dem Ward Organizations have endorsed him, all his close allies are Dems, and he's actually- Shhhhh!- much closer to Daley than he wants everyone to know. It's not really a shell game- there's an honest to god difference between him and the Regular Dem Nominee- but it kinda feels that way.

  18. I just voted in California. And there was a loooooot of voting. About three ballots. I just voted for the Democrat in all of the partisan races, yes on all the judges, and for the incumbants in the local races except for the Mayor. (Voted for a school board member who has a lot of interesting ideas as Mayor)

    The propositions are actually the more interesting part of the ballot for me. When I first moved to California, I hated them, but they've grown on me. In particular, this year I hope the (in)famous Prop 19 passes. Another big one was Prop 23 (No on repealing AB32, greenhouse gas restrictions). Also, I voted to change the voting requirement in the legislature to a simple majority on the budget if no taxes are raised. I do wonder how much of California's complex legal code comes from the proposition system, though...

  19. I was on my way home from work (western north carolina....ugh! on politics but supremely beautiful land) and was planning to go vote........but I just couldn't do it! Heath Shuler is such an asshole......Elaine Marshall is such a pushover of a little grandma......I JUST COULDN'T VOTE FOR THESE PEOPLE. My team is going to lose big tonite and I just refuse to continue to vote for dems who attack their own party and president. Goodbye Heath......don't let the door hit you on the way out!

  20. Don't forget that your local Christian Coalition thoroughly vets each judge for you. So does the Republican Party, and so did our local Tea Party. I used their recommendations to vote "No" on a number of previously unknown (to me) total wingnut loonies that sit on the California bench. Which is especially important in the appellate courts. Hello Prop 8???

    The ones not recommended by the CC and GOP, I searched our local newspaper archives for examples of bad behavior or corruption. Bad behavior gets a no. A final google on the ones that were left netted some worthy judges that deserved support. Including Justice Moreno who wrote the stirring dissent in the Prop 8 case.

    It isn't helpful if good people keep voting for bad judges.

  21. I believe I had 43 races here in Austin, including a bond election and a bunch of uncontested ... judges? Maybe? I'm still pretty new to Texas.

    My wife & I had our first child last month, so our time has been consumed with that. I frantically tried to print out the League of Women Voters' guide last night, so we'd have at least some mild information to vote based on. Didn't get it printed until 3 this afternoon. We both quickly skimmed the smaller races and mostly decided straight Dem. (I voted for a Libertarian and a Green in races without a Democrat, and maybe even one or two Republicans.)

    We made it to our election site at 5:30, with the rain just starting to drizzle. Despite our expectations, there was a little bit of a wait. (Here's a photo.)

  22. I commented last time, but forgot to mention an amusing oddity. I am still registered at my parents' house (have never felt that I really "lived" at school) but have only ever voted absentee. The Board of Elections always sends me a ballot for NY-11 -- but they direct my family to vote in a NY-12 polling place. It's true the district line is right down the middle of my street (and NY-10, our district before 2000, goes up to a block away; I used to pass through five or six CDs on my way to school in the mornings), but that's ridiculous.

  23. We, my 2 children and I, had the normal race out the door to be on time, but exactly 10 minutes early. We left our driveway at 7:40 and walked to the polling place, got into the polling place, checked in for the touch screen voting machines (default) but there was a line of several -- as in 4 or 5 -- people and the machines take longer (I've been a poll worker), so we went back and switched to paper scan-tron ballot, much to the disappointment of my 3 year old who is quite practiced at voting on the touch screen. I voted, we got our stickers, and we walked back home and got in the car at 7:49.

    While we don't live in Chicago, my children voted early and often. They went with me in the morning, their dad in the late afternoon, and their aunt in the evening.

    We had the senate race - open seat but foregone win for the Republican, normal house races at the state and federal level - an unanticipated squeaker for the Dem, 3 nonsensical state constitutional amendments (fine ballot measures but do they have to be in the constitution??) that all passed, and 2 ballot measures, both passed. Not that long, not that interesting.

    The most worthwhile part of it was taking the kids.


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