Friday, April 09, 2010
I is for Identification
It was so very rural America, the whole thing. There was the booth - three booths actually - that you could tell was built by someone who either worked for the town or volunteered to do it for them, in a garage workshop somewhere. But you could also tell that it was built by someone who knew what they were doing and cared a lot about quality and craftsmanship, because that thing was well put together and solid as a rock. It had the curtain - you know, that curtain that every voting booth has but you have never seen anywhere else ever - that red, white, and blue American flag pattern curtain, except this particular one was pretty faded from years and years of use.
Even the town hall was ancient: a former one-room schoolhouse that still had a blackboard on the wall, with big windows and wood floors that made a hard tapping sound when you walked around on them in hard shoes, although it was that sort of more comforting hard tapping, not the sharp kind like when you are walking around on marble floors or something. The election workers were all ladies on the long side of 50, and they were all very nice. It was totally quintessentially America. Like, if you were making a video to send out to non-democratic countries to teach them about democracy, the scene where I went to vote is the one you would show, maybe in the background while some bullet points showed as the focus on the screen.
The part you would not show, however, was the hours and hours those poor ladies sat there doing nothing. I walked in at around 4:15 pm and I was the 49th person to vote. There were, in July of 2009, 1139 registered voters in my government unit. So when I came in to register and then vote I was one of the 4-ish percent who actually made the effort. There are, however, only 1577 residents in total, which means that 72% of them are registered voters, and I think that is pretty good. This election was a spring election, and every race on my ballot was uncontested, which I am sure accounted for the low turnout, but whatever. Like I said, we just will skip past those parts when we make our democracy video.
I did, however, have to register first, being new to the area I live. The problem is that the bankrupt Department of Motor Vehicles where I live doesn't give you a new drivers license when you move like they used to unless you pony up $14, which is fucking stupid because we have those new super-licenses that the Homeland Security dipwads made us start using that are supposed to be able to get us anywhere. Yeah, that works real well to keep us safe when we don't even have our right addresses on them. They don't even send you that annoying sticker for the back like they used to. So when I went in to register I had to take a utility bill in to show that I lived in town. That too, is stupid, because I am pretty sure that you don't have to have to live somewhere to have a utility hooked up for that property. I could call up and have the power for a house in Parker, Arizona switched to my name if I really wanted to, and I have never even been there. In the end they just need to see something that ties you to where you live, and I understand that voter fraud in a small, rural township probably isn't going to be perpetrated by one guy walking in and voting in an uncontested election, but still the whole thing seemed rather silly. They ladies, though, were gracious and thorough and pleasant in their job, which is just about all that one can ask really. Even if we are just identified by our bills in their eyes.