The last time I voted in Portland, we were voting on marriage equality. We were also voting for a President, a Senator and a Congressman, as well as on other ballot issues. My polling place was the Fellowship Hall and Gym at Woodfords Congregational UCC, my home church before and during seminary. I shook hands with relatives of candidates in the parking lot, then lined up to go inside, where I saw friends voting ahead of me, chatted up the people in line around me, recognized the poll workers, and generally felt delighted to be participating in the democratic process with my neighbors.
I did not have to show ID.
I filled out 2 card stock ballots (elections and ballot issues) with one of those special black markers, and had the pleasure of inserting my ballots into a machine for counting.
It may sound funny, but I always made sure to fill in those lines very carefully while I stood behind the little curtain.
Here in Pennsylvania, kathrynzj and I went to vote at St. Peter Lutheran Church, because we haven’t updated our driver’s licenses yet. There were very few people voting. The ladies at the L-Z table were nice; one had her knitting, which I really wanted to ask about, but you know, elections are serious, and these people don’t know me. I signed in opposite an image of my voter registration card, with an image of my signature.
I can’t tell you how much I don’t like that.
They gave me a white card (blank) to hand to the extremely old man operating the touch screen machine. He made a joke about my Vera Bradley purse and where I got it, but it wasn’t actually about it being Vera Bradley. It was just a lame joke. He lingered in case I needed help using the machine. I stared him down, blankly. He finally moved off.
I pushed the screen to get started and looked at the voting screen. It gave me a choice of voting a straight party ticket, for either party. One of the candidates of my party was not someone I could in good conscience vote for, and another election had no Democrat, so in the end I only voted in the Governor’s race. Then I pressed the red “Vote” button above the screen. The machine went all “Danger, Will Robinson!!!” I confirmed my desire to pass over some of the categories. Considering there are about 11 Democrats in our precinct, the lack of candidates should not surprise me.
On the way out, we did see a familiar face, which made the whole thing seem more like real life to me.
Next time around, we will vote across the street, at kathrynzj’s church, where I assume I will know more people, but they will still need to have me sign the book in order to vote. And no matter how many familiar faces I see, it will take a long time before it feels like Portland, where I lived long enough to start meeting people for the second time.