Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting Stories

Another Plain Blog Election Day tradition: a voting stories thread. I'll write up mine in my usual post after I vote. I'm sort of dreading it...our polling place is the local elementary school, and I've heard that they've had a major uglification project since the last time I was there.

Anyway, I love voting stories, and I'd love to hear yours. What's your polling place? What kind of ballot did you have: touch screen? Paper? 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?

Looking back to the 2010 comments thread...someone reported having a whopping 103 choices on the ballot; someone else reported only five. So we'll see how this year stacks up to that.


  1. Washington state has mail in ballots, but I like the satisfying thunk of placing my vote in a thing, so I dropped it off at the drop box in city hall on purpose. For the obscure races, I followed the stranger's electoral voting guide (an alternative newspaper in seattle, washington) who swayed me to vote for one progressive republican (against the your advice to vote a straight ballot) because of a great quote: "This is more of a promise than we could squeeze out of feckless Democrat Brad Owen, the incumbent in this race and a worthless waste of space who has spent the last dozen years touring the state with his crappy-ass rock band and crusading to lock up pot smokers. Want to support Brad Owen? Buy his shitty CD. But vote for Finkbeiner."

    1. I visit the Stranger website often. This is true even though I live in Texas and we have a great alternative paper here that I have read for over twenty five years that also has a website.

      I find The Stranger's website inviting and interesting while the Austin Chronicle's website is just not. I think it is the difference between the blog like nature of The Stranger vs the big city newspaper look of the Chronicle.

      I do rely pretty heavily on the Chronicle's endorsements though. The fact that they cover the school district races in Austin proper and not in the other districts where they distribute their paper is very irksome to me. I can pick up the paper in multiple places blocks from my house but find no coverage of the political issues in my area.

  2. I voted by mail, so I 4 separate ballots: the state elected officials, state ballot propositions, county offices / propositions, and city offices / propositions. About 40 separate votes and ranked choice voting for the mayor.

    We have fill in the arrow paper ballots, which is great for making sure that you don't vote for the wrong person.

    We had a bunch of non-partisan offices: 2 school board, 4 rent control board, 3 mass transit board.

    Since I voted by mail I could read the candidate writing statements while voting. I looked for past experience in elected office, being able to discuss a specific goal or problem relating to the office they were running, and general background (e.g. the retired city bus driver applying to now work on the mass transit board). If I couldn't decide I would Google the candidates.

    1. That's pretty great. For some reason we were not allowed to bring mobile devices with us into our polling booths. As a result, I had to memorize all the information I had wanted to just keep in the notes section in my phone.

      Actually being able to recognize when you need more information and being able to correct the problem when the ballot is in your face sounds awesome. Too many times I have been at the polling place and discovered there was some race I didn't know anything about on the ballot, but it is too late if you are voting in person.

  3. Let's see...

    Here in Chicago, we had the usual massive list of judges in the judicial retention elections. The non-partisan (I hope) voter guides recommended all but five for retention, so that's how I voted.

    Then there were all sorts of judges with Democrats running unopposed (oh, and a Supreme Court race)...and of course the presidential race, US Congress, state house and senate...

    ...but by far the winner of "most obscure" was the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioners. Vote for three. The D's ran 3, the R's 2, and the Greens 3. I voted for 2 of the D's and a G, based on looking up the biographies of the candidates and seeing who appeared to have actual experience with water...which seems absurd.

    Then State's Attorney, Clerk of the Circuit Court, and Recorder of Deeds...I only voted in one of those races, which I decided based on scanning old newspaper articles to see if the incumbents had any sort of scandals or anything. Oh! And "Board of Review, 2nd District" and I have no idea what it is, because it was just a D running unopposed.

    Then there was a state constitutional amendment and three city "public questions," which are non-binding, I think. Two "no's" and a "yes" there.

    So in total that makes:

    93 offices or ballot questions!

    1. I'm also in Cook County. Not knowing about the voter guide, I left everything on the second page blank, which triggered the machine to go BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP and I had to confirm that I intended to leave everything blank on the 2nd page.

      Left congressman blank because I'm not going to vote for my local conservaDem and there is no Green party candidate.

    2. Voltaire, same here—this was my first November election in Chicago and (voting early) I felt ridiculous having bringing a cheat sheet into the booth. I likewise voted for two Dems and a Green for the water board after looking up everyone’s biography.

      Did you use the Tribune’s guide? I felt like they did an okay job tailoring it for areas—they didn’t recommend the Republican for my (fairly liberal) district, for instance. It looks like my vote against kicked-out-of-the-state-legislature Derrick Smith, however, was for nought.

  4. I am in central Illinois. I voted in a Catholic church's multipurpose room (which I think they should be required to put away all religious material). The ballot was fill-in-the-oval and when you fed it into the machine it verified there was nothing wrong with the ballot. There were about two dozen items to vote on. The most obscure was county coroner, but it was a noncontested race so it was an easy choice. For the other local races, I followed the campaigns so I knew what was going on.

    We had a local referendum that advises amending the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United.

  5. Fill-in-the-bubble ballot in West Hartford, CT--I filled in six. One for the presidential electors, then US House, US Senate, CT House, CT Senate, and Registrar of Voters, and one ballot question. Each Senate Candidate was on two lines: Chris Murphy as D and WF, and Linda as R and I. I was surprised to see that Jill Stein didn't make the ballot, tho' some G did for a Senate, I think.

    There was a substantial line, extending past the door with about twenty or so people waiting in the sub-freezing autumn at 6:45 or so. About fifteen minutes in line altogether—the town recently went from 22 polling places to 9. Community/senior center. No bake sale. One D outside the 75-foot line with signs for (I think) all the candidates except the registrar; no R signs at all, at all. We passed by a couple more polling places across the line in Hartford, and didn't see any Linda signs there, either.


  6. Columbus, Ohio (swing state central...)

    My wife and I arrived at our polling place around 6:45 a.m., and because we have different last names, and hence, stand in different lines, her wait was shorter than mine. We vote at a neighborhood rec center a few blocks south of The Ohio State University campus. I ended up waiting about 45 minutes and chatted with a neighbor down the street about his house renovations and his pumpkin ale homebrew. Other than the presidential and senatorial races, the big vote today for Ohioans is state Issue 2, which would create an independent, non-partisan commission to handle redistricting every ten years. Democrats are all for it, Republicans, not so much.

    We have a choice of paper ballot or computer machine - I chose the latter. My wife is less trusting than I and opted for a paper ballot. I always do a lot of research on more 'obscure' offices so it only took me a few minutes to cast my votes and leave.

  7. (I live in Minneapolis.) I moved since the last election, so I have a new polling place. It was the local VFW post last time, now it's an elementary school. Conveniently, it's also next door to my apartment building. I have to walk less than 100 yards from door to door. It's a pretty old school and the signs on the side of the building proclaim that it's a fallout shelter. That probably explains why cell phone service is nonexistent inside.

    My girlfriend and I got there shortly after the polls opened at 7. It took us about a half an hour of waiting to get to the front of the line. The ballot had the major offices: President, Senate, US House, State Senate, State House. Then it had the stupid judicial elections (who actually knows enough to vote in those? there were seven judicial races on the ballot. I voted for the incumbents for the Supreme Court, since I think they've done a surprisingly good job, considering they're almost all GOP appointees. I didn't vote on the appeals/district court judicial races because I didn't know enough.

    There were also two school board races and four races for "Hennepin County Soil and Water Supervisor." Entertainingly, in 2010 I knew someone who was running for soil and water and voted for her. She now lives in Portland and this time I left them blank.

    We also had two constitutional amendments on the ballot. One for voter ID and one outlawing the already outlawed same sex marriage. I voted no on both.

    Not a lot of interesting races here, but the amendments are where the action is at.

  8. Voted in New Hampshire, and was about eight people in line ahead of our sitting member of Congress; I am not a fan of this member, but imagine it must be very odd to wait to cast a ballot in an election one could very well lose. On the way out, I was exit polled, and made the exit pollster's day with my enthusiastic reaction to being asked. I saw the challenger for the Congressional seat making her way to the polling place line while the incumbent was being interviewed by local TV, but left before I could see if there were going to be any fireworks.

  9. My girlfriend and I voted a couple of weeks ago in Oakland, California while sitting on the couch watching Family Guy and scanning a variety of local newspaper endorsements to try and figure out the local measures (there were 3) and to make sure that the incumbents for all the local offices (BART authority board members, city attorney, etc) didn't have any disqualifying scandals or anything. Filled out three ballots in all, probably 20-something choices.

    Before this election I was generally in favor of the "jungle primary" and ranked-choice voting, but I'm less sure now about the jungle primary. The two Dems who survived the June primary for the open Assembly seat are basically identical, so it's just a coin toss to see who wins. I don't know if that's useful.

    I still kind of like ranked-choice voting, because it helped get my candidate elected mayor in '10.

    The local polling place is a small non-demoninational church around the corner. I'm going to swing by in a little bit to pick up "I voted" stickers for my girlfriend and I.

    1. Well, generally candidates will then differentiate between themselves... Can't help it if they don't, tho.

  10. I voted in suburban Chicago this morning with my daughter. She is 21 years old. This is her first time voting. It's kind of a big deal because she has Down syndrome. She had the opportunity to register several weeks ago at our public library, at a table staffed by a volunteer from the League of Women Voters. She's a big fan of President Obama, and our state senator is a neighbor of one of her friends. So we prepared a sheet about who she was voting for. She watched me use the touch screen (just like her iPad!) and then did it herself. And she went off to school with an "I voted" sticker on her purse.

  11. Rural conservative part of Pennsylvania here. There were three lines (A-G, H-M, N-Z) in the normal fashion. If your name started with H to Z, you waited about two minutes. If your name started with A to G, you must have had to wait 45 minutes.

    Nothing on the ballot except president, and state and national legislatures.

    The only candidate with an active presence in the electioneering zone was the Democrat running for an open state legislature seat that is normally Republican. That seemed odd.

  12. I"m in California at one of the UC's. The polling place is the community center of a student apartment complex. One poll worker: "I've never seen such high turnout this early". Another corrected him that turnout was higher in '08. Now on a university campus, this means 8 people in line shortly after 7 AM. Paper ballots, no voter ID, there's even a place to drop off mail ballots if you don't want to go to the post office.

    Not an especially cluttered ballot, but there was a school board election that I didn't research, pick 3 of 4 (without party labels, the best I could do was ditch the guy who described himself as "small business owner" on the assumption that that was code for "anti-tax Republican").

    I did research the propositions, which whatever their faults mean that your vote always counts for something in this non-swing state. Ended up abstaining on the anti-GMO one--I was tempted to vote no but I have some friends who would disown me if I did. Yes on both tax increases for education.

  13. Got up at 5:30 AM to vote this morning in St. Louis, MO. St.Louis is a classic urban political machine in a red state (and I live in the 'city' proper) so the racial demographics of the polling place are somewhat interesting.

    Middle school gymnasium. A few voting machines, a few dozen hand voting booths (which most used for a shorter line). Everybody lines up by ward. Some lines are virtually all white (the gentrifying neighborhoods of the heavily segregated St. Louis) while the rest are almost all black. Every poll worker was black as well.

    Pretty decent crowd for early in the morning; everything was running smooth as butter.

    1. We had a state ref. on allowing the governor/exec. branch to set up health insurance exchanges.

      It was worded in the negative (ie. "Should the governor and other administrators be prohibited from..."), rendering the description a little counter-intuitive.

  14. I live in the western part of Cleveland and I voted at the local middle school. My wife and I took our 18 month old daughter so that she could experience her first election.

    There were no problems and not much of a line at 7:30. There were the standard offices but the U.S. House candidate was unopposed in this strongly Democratic district. There were a lot of judges up for election. To help me decide, I used a printout from a website called Judge 4 yourself which collected all the ratings from various legal organizations. We had a vote for a state constitutional convention and the independent board for drawing legislative districts. Even though I am a Democrat, and many left leaning groups supported the independent board, I voted against the ballot measure. I credit websites like this one and The Monkey Cage for convincing me that redistricting is best left in the hands of politicians.

    In Cleveland we had a couple of ballot measures for tax levys for local schools, and port and harbor improvements. There were also a couple of city charter amendments dealing with the city budget and selecting the top chiefs in the fire department.

    I never feel more patriotic than I do on election day.

  15. Was at an Apartment complex in Carmel, IN's clubhouse at 6am. The "blue cards didn't work" and after calling Hamilton County Election Office they said it was a county wide problem. Waited until 6:30am and then left. Apparently the problem got fixed shortly after I left because IndyStar had a story about the problem in Fishers and said it was fixed at 6:30am. Something to do with clearing information from the demo machine instead of the real one so when they corrected the problem a bunch of the voting machines had to be rebooted.

  16. Not my own voting story... (hopefully not breaking the rules). Here in Austin a woman was asked to cover up a shirt that had "Vote the Bible" printed on it when she went to vote. Inexplicably, the polling staff told her that her shirt was "offensive" rather than just asking her to adhere to the same electioneering rules everyone else is subject to and moving on. Thus handing the A.M. radio howler monkeys grist for days (and I mean days) of apoplectic end-of-the-free-world drama. Sheesh.

  17. Here in storm-wracked NJ, we are down to a few dozen polling places that had to be reworked. I am in a town that is almost fully restored to power, and the grade school where I voted just opened yesterday. People are relieved the day is finally here, even though we are not a swing state. We had the usual national offices, a couple of boro council members, and two initiatives. Yes for the higher ed bond (I'm a professor, I supposed I'm biased), and no to amend the constitution about judge's contributions to benefits. Amazing what people think should be in the state constitutions.

  18. Here in Placentia, CA, had a relatively short ballot. Normal offices plus propositions. Granted, the propositions were a pretty long list this time, but not TOO bad. But, not much else on there...no city measures, no county measures, no judges (that I recall).

    Voted by mail, and sent in my ballot the day it came to stop my fricking union from calling me. And it worked; got NO phone calls in the last 2 weeks!

    1. I hadn't realized that was what did it! Before I voted the calls had gotten so bad I almost wanted to vote yes on prop 32 in spite.

  19. Voted on Cape Cod, MA. It's the first year I've lived here, so it was a new polling place to me-- it's also the first time I've voted in a town hall, instead of a school or church. Decent turnout for the hour I went, nothing special. No long waits.

    It's a pretty short ballot here-- just three questions (plus a fourth, non-binding one that I hadn't read about-- but fortunately I had a strong opinion on the issue and didn't have to fret over it). The handful of local offices were mostly people running unopposed, so no worries there. I voted a straight ticket, partly influenced by things I've read on this blog.

    I'm interested to see how the state ballot questions turned out, because I was at least slightly conflicted on all of the binding ones. And of course, Warren-Brown is going to be a big one.

    I'm never prouder to be an American than on this day. If the results don't go my way, of course, I might be slightly less proud. But it's still a great day, regardless.

  20. I voted in Arlington, VA, early this morning after waiting in line for an hour and a half. The wait was about what I expected since it's a yuppie precinct where I assume most folks vote either before or after work.

    Nothing too noteworthy about the ballot: normal offices, a couple of propositions, and four bond referenda. I did appreciate Virginia's obscure ballot question on the legislature:

    "Shall Section 6 of Article IV (Legislature) of the Constitution of Virginia concerning legislative sessions be amended to allow the General Assembly to delay by no more than one week the fixed starting date for the reconvened or “veto” session when the General Assembly meets after a session to consider the bills returned to it by the Governor with vetoes or amendments?"

    Apparently the current fixed starting date for such sessions overlaps with Passover some years.

  21. I'm in central Oklahoma, and voted at a Church of the Nectarine, er, Nazarene--very well organized, lots of booth space, polite and helpful officials. We went mid-morning, and they said they had been constantly busy since opening time, but the lines were short despite the supposedly heavy turnout. The whole thing took less than twenty minutes.

    We have a scan-able paper ballot, where you mark your choice by blacking in a box--very simple-- mark,insert into a scanner and you're done, and your vote shows as recorded after the scan if the ballot is properly marked. This is unchanged from past elections, except that the machine is a newer model.

    Our ballot initiatives, other than a stray bond issue for water and sewer, were mostly tea party things, like abolishing the state Department of Human Services with no replacement provisions, repealing a tax on intangible property that funds the education system, etc. But the language used was clear and easy to understand, and the ballot itself only covered two pages. The vast majority of vote options were for judicial retentions.

    Oh and this was the first national election where you had to show ID, but the state issued voter registration card that you get automatically at registration was acceptable on its own, as well as the normal driver's license, so wasn't too draconian. The elderly lady in front of me did have some problems, but apparently eventually found some sort of acceptable ID, and was allowed to vote. Staff was very patient and helpful with her.

    All in all, a very smooth experience, as it always is here. But then there's not a lot of need for worry about how the vote is going to go in the rural district I inhabit--no one to suppress, least of all the odd sneaky liberal like myself, whose vote is meaningless, pretty much.

  22. Voted in Oakland, CA. Optical Scan ballot. Slight awkwardness because polling location served two precincts - so people had to go to the right table to get their ballots - AND had to come back to the right scanner to turn in their ballots.

    Realized leaving the polls that the only old white guy I voted for was Joe Biden for VP - and that there were only two offices on the ballot where a white guy was even an option - President/VP (obviously) - and City Council at large (where one of the obscure candidates is a fairly young white guy). Senate / US House / State Senate / State Assembly / City Attorney candidates were all at least one of
    African American
    (some candidates were more than one).

  23. Northern Virginia suburbs.

    We had the presidential, senate, and congressional races, 1 question, and 4 bond issues. We had a choice of paper of machine ballot. I chose paper, and it was a fill in the circle ballot.

    VA has a voter identification law this time around, so I was watching what ID people were presenting. A lot of folks seemed to be using utility bills as ID, and I didn't see any issues arise from that in the short time I was there.

    Got there at 6.30, and there was a long line, although it had lessened considerably by the time I left.

    Saw one guy in a colonial hat who was handing out a card about the constitutional question.

  24. Voted in a beach town on the south shore of Long Island. We were hit hard by Sandy and we just got water/sewage working yesterday (no electricity).

    We only have two voting locations this year, when normally we would have many more. Turnout was pretty light. A lot of people are living in other cities and probably won't show up. Waited in line for 15-20 minutes. It was pretty disorganized. We have scannable paper ballots, which confused some people. No obscure offices, though our state representative is banking on running up the score in our town, so with turnout light he might be out.

    What troubled me though were some absentee ballots. My brother and two grandparents voted by absentee, and their ballots need to be mailed. Now, my town's mail is a mess because of the hurricane, so I thought I'd bring in the ballots to give to someone at the polling site (I'm pretty sure absentee ballot deadlines have been extended because of the hurricane). Nobody working at the site knew if they could take the absentee ballots, and eventually a woman took them, and she said she would try to deliver them.

    I've read stories about how New Jersey voting is a mess, and that seems to be the case here, too. Sort of an ad hoc feel. National guardsmen are all over the place. I hope none of the elections are swayed as a result.

  25. Oregon, vote by mail.

    First time for me to vote in this state. Only unusual thing I noticed was one of the spots on the Land and Soil Commission didn't have any candidates.

    1. Oh and for obscure non-partisan contests, I usually voted for the second choice on the ballot to counteract the first-listed bias.

  26. I'm in the Detroit suburbs. We got to The Synagogue that is our poling place just before 10:00 a.m. It holds precincts 9 and 10. Those of us in precinct 9 just walked in and voted - after we learned that there were 2 lines - D'OH!

    The whole thing took about 25 minutes, and as we were leaving, the precinct 10 people we were originally in line with were just getting inside the building.

    I'm very glad it wasn't raining.

    We had some local offices, quite a few state judges, including SC, and 6 proposals for constitutional amendments. Didn't count the total items, but the ballot was unusually long and 2-sided.

    We have fill-in-the-bubble, and I got writer's cramp before it was over.

  27. Just moved to Orange County, California. Voted a straight Dem ticket where possible. Got to vote for Kang for Congress. Unfortunately R's got 70% of the vote in our jungle primary so I think Kodos (still disguised as Rep. John Campbell) will win. Same goes for all the other races except Feinstein and Obama.

    We've got city council, two water boards, community college board, and school board. Not a single Dem running for any of them, or at least none interested in admitting it (these are supposedly nonpartisan but I always investigate); no one endorsed by the party or a union. For city council all five candidates put "business(wo)man". Researched quite a bit but couldn't come up with a pick for some of those races. 11 state initiatives, 2 local. One of those was to eliminate pay and benefits for city council. Voted no.

    Voted absentee but didn't finish until yesterday because I couldn't figure out the local races. Dropped our ballots off at the county registrar to make sure they arrived in time. They had a big setup in the parking lot, cars lined up to drop off ballots. Volunteers taking ballots and county workers managing traffic. Moved quickly.

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  29. SF CA: 'Absentee' voted at the local precinct polling place - like others, I like the thunk of my ballot envelope in the box. Makes it real.

    By CA standards not a horrid ballot - two double-sided sheets, one single-sided. Just six state props. For local and school-board offices I just followed the Dem recommendations. Being this is SF those may be to my left, but not enough to sweat.

    Voting in CA has always been a snap - at least in white, middle class precincts. None of the horrors you hear about in lesser states without the law.

    Oh - and how trippy to actually get to vote for Nancy Pelosi!

    1. Dude, we had eleven state props: 8 statutes, 2 constitutional amendments, 1 referendum. Where'd you get six from?

    2. On our ballot, six on one side, three on the other. Made it was a miscount?

  30. I dropped off my big folded-cardboard ballot in a wishing-well type receptacle at a city hall last week here in Colorado. The hardest choice was for Regional Transportation Director, a nonpartisan position; I asked my wife, who works with a lot of government people, who I should vote for.

    Our ballot has a broken arrow next to each candidate's name, and you have to fill in a line between the two pieces of the arrow to indicate your choice. The line of the arrow is wider than a penstroke, so you have to sort of color it in. Here, voting isn't just a civic duty - it's a craft project!

    1. That's the Chicago style, too! It almost motivated me not to vote for most of the judges.

    2. For what its worth, the "fill-in-the-arrow" style doesn't seem to get more residual votes (and, in this case, they'd be undervotes) than other optical scan methods....a finding that has always amazed me.

  31. Berkeley: Voted at the same home for retirees we've had for some years now. Line wasn't too bad at noon. Like the voter from Oakland, the voters from two precincts voted in the same place, but with different lines, booths, and receptacles. This had never happened before.

    Ballot was four two-sided pages long. While I'm undeclared, I can see the point in Jonathan's "vote the party" argument, but even if I was a Democrat, I would have skipped over Dianne Feinstein.

    We voted for the Rent Board, always a crucial election for Berkeley. While people run unattached, "slates" form that tend towards "pro-renter" and "pro-landlord". As always, I vote with the renters, although I haven't been one since 1987.

    We also got to vote on whether to kick homeless people off the sidewalks. I liked what my wife said: "I don't vote for mean things." In a similar vein, we both voted against the death penalty.

    And this blog has a lot of influence: I voted for Obama, and it wasn't an easy choice.

    1. You know about the political science finding that incumbents are helped by the success of local sports teams, right?

    2. I've skipped Feinstein in each of the Primaries I've gotten to vote in now, but to no effect. Not going to vote for the stooge that's against her this year.

      Strangely, since 2006, she's been more left than center, pleasantly surprised at some of her votes. But I now she's willing to stab me leftist tendencies in the back in the media whereas Boxer is usually more lefty is speech.

  32. My voting place is a fire station a few blocks from home. I went right when it opened at 7am, and it was surprisingly crowded considering I live in a solidly red state (GA) that was never in contention in the Presidential contest (nor in the Senate or House) plus it was raining.

    We use touch screen machines with no paper trail, but they do let you review your selections before finalizing your ballot.

    I voted Democratic where possible and Libertarian for one minor office where no Democrat was running. I wrote (touched) in "Charles Darwin" for Congress in protest against my wing nut idiot Congressman Paul Broun who was officially unopposed. I voted no on the 2 proposed state constitutional amendments because I always assume they are only on there to benefit various special interests and on principle I believe public policy should be done by legislatures not ballot initiatives.

    All in all it took about 20 minutes.

    It sucks when your side has no chance of prevailing in the big contests in your area aside from city and county posts, but I vote anyway out of civic obligation and a desire to express my political preferences.

  33. Polling place is around the corner from my house. All morning, there was a steady buzz of traffic as voters drove there and then left. We went up at 11:30. No line, but folk who'd just voted still chatting. Happy poll workers and really competent election clerk.

    Ballots were simple, easy to understand. I voted a straight Dem ticket, except for Senate, where I voted for Angus King. Yes on marriage equality. Yes on bond issues.

    And then I signed a petition asking our Senators and Representatives to take action to pass legislation to limit the money flooding superpacs. Got my sticker, and home again. It took about 20 minutes, including the walk.

    Best part was the two men vying for a seat as our State Representatives; hanging together outside the polling place, joking and laughing. They're old friends.

    I'm interested in ranked balloting; would like to see it here in Maine, where folks love independent and 3rd party candidates. Anyone have some input?

  34. Went to vote in my precinct in a synagogue near the ocean in San Francisco. Heavily Asian. Three ahead of me when I got there; three behind me by the time I signed in; 150 had voted by about 12:30. Pretty heavy for this precinct, but moved quickly.

    A young Asian woman was not found on the rolls. The clerk offered her a provisional ballot, but she didn't quite understand and started to leave. I intervened and told her You can vote with a provisional ballot. She gladly did this. I think the clerk was trying to help but just wasn't effective.

    Paper ballots -- connect the lines. About 11 state propositions and 7 local ones. I don't usually vote for offices like school board and transit board, but our local community college has been wrecked by mismanagement so I went through the voters pamphlet and eliminated every incumbent, voting only for the most plausible outsiders. I've never done that before for any slate.

  35. Provisional! Because I'm a bad American who thought he'd updated his address, but nyet. Everyone was very helpful and patient, whole process was in and out of the door in 40 minutes. Five of that was the special explanations for provisional ballots ('once you seal it, we can't even touch it,') five was figuring out one spectacularly confusingly worded question about police unions. (Montgomery County, MD.)

  36. Our polling place shares its location with another polling district - I have no idea why. It's in the Senior's center at the park. We often walk, and it was beautiful enough to, but I've got the flu, so we drove the most of a mile there and back. It was 80+F and highly shady because the sun was so low in the sky behind the trees and hill. Odd, but beautiful weather.

    They hadn't swapped the sides of the room this time. We mostly use big ballot sheets that you fill a line, although there's one of the electronic-but-prints machines remaining. A few years ago California mostly ditched the machines after having so much problems with them (and having no paper trail!). I don't care which, as long as there's a way to recount the votes manually, physically.

    Voting went without a hitch, all eight positions (President, Senator, two state legislators, and two county - one a pick-two) and twelve ballot measures (one local).

    And we're done. Walk around the park to look for mushrooms - it's been too warm for winter ones and it's too late for fall ones - and we went home with our stickers. Spouse is going to put hers on her sketch book. I put mine on my shirt, but I usually put it on my shoe.

  37. I thought I would share my voting story from across the pond. I live in London (I'm Irish) where we recently had the Mayoral elections and elections to the London assembly.

    I went into the polling station at my nearest Library after work. My polling card didn't arrive but I assumed this was because of the postman delivering to the wrong address (again). There was hardly any people but two nice old ladies behind the voting booth. I told they my name and address. They couldn't find me but I saw my name listed down as our next door neighbours. Whoops! Wasn't a problem for them and I got my polling card anyhow. Voted for Boris Johnson and a smattering of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. In a reliable Labour area so only my BOJO vote had any real effect. Felt good I will admit!

  38. (part one)

    I voted with my five year old son on the way to appointment with him. We didn't have a lot of time so I voted as quickly as I could while making it as fun for him as possible.

    My polling place is the local middle school. While I was waiting in line my son watched the kids playing sports on the field. They had us wait outside and called us in two or four at a time.

    The line outside was about ten to fifteen people long, but a woman near me said it had been much longer in the morning. I voted at about 1:40 which was probably one of the least crowded times all day. Inside there was a short line as they processed us and then seven or eight voting booths that were full at all times.

    We use electronic voting booths. There is a dial to use that acts sort of like a cursor and a button to select the choice the cursor has highlit. Then there are back and forward keys to change the pages displayed. There is a big red "vote" button at the end. I let my son move the dial and push the select buttons (although I made sure they were in the right places) and push the big red button at the end.

    Even though we used this one man and a five year old method, we were substantially faster than those around us because I had memorized everything before we got there. I only had to check that we were making the correct selections rather than read anything in the booth.

    I live in Austin, Texas. I voted straight party which filled in more races than I bothered to count. After that I voted for minor parties when I could oppose Republicans.

    After the partisan races there were two school board races. It is hard to get information on the school board in my area so I decided who to vote for by finding a tea party oriented web site and voting for the two people who really upset her and got her thinking about conspiracy theories. One of those two guys got walloped, so maybe she was on to something in his case.

    We then had 1 vote to create a medical school in the area, 11 votes on city charter changes and 10 votes on bonds. I voted yes on everything except for 7 of the charter amendments.

    1. (part two)

      The most upsetting charter amendments were two to switch city council members from at large to single member districts. At least one of them passed, so that will happen now. I strenuously opposed the change. I think the larger the population allowed to vote on a representative, the more democratic the result.

      There is also a tactical issue in Austin in that liberals have pushed this idea for at least thirty years. During that time liberals have controlled the city council. By doing this, they will have ended their own control. This boggles my mind. They managed to find a result that is less democratic (at least in my way of thinking) while also diminishing their own power. Republicans would never be that stupid. They will get to see this for themselves, because now there will some on city council.

      We (by which I mean people in my city who aren't me) also voted to move city council elections to coincide with Presidential elections. I think this is because they really, really hate informed voters. I suppose now I only have one city council member to keep track of at a time. Perhaps partisan primaries will come next.

      I am fairly bitter about some of these changes because of the shoot yourself in foot approach taken by our liberal political and opinion leaders. Single member districts were defeated in Austin untold times, but it only takes one victory for them to become permanent, and they brought it to the polls as often as they were legally allowed. It's like the guy who keeps trying to commit suicide. His friends stop him the first five times, but no one happened to be there the sixth.

      As a result I am very happy with national results, sad about local results, and haven't checked in on the partisan local results because of my wanting to avoid thinking about the charter amendments. The same sources that will tell me about the partisan results will inevitably remind me about the charter results. I do know that one of the school board guys I voted for won.


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