Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Voting in Florida: It's not just a civic duty, it's an adventure!

I got up early yesterday and did my part as a good citizen by partaking in the democratic process, because it's the right thing to do and because I enjoy wearing stickers on my clothing.
After driving through my neighborhood McDonald's to get some coffee (SUCCESS!) and to try to score some of those poisonous Shrek glasses they were giving away as true collectors items (fail), I headed over to the Oak Grove Church, polling station for precinct 454.
Between a combination of it being really early (about 7:45AM), terrible weather and this not being one of the big, sexy November elections, there were about as many cars as you'd expect to see in a church parking lot on a Tuesday morning. There were easily five times more people at McDonald's (to be fair, McDonald's coffee is pretty exceptional, especially for the price). I was greeted by one fellow at the door who told me there had been a bunch of people there earlier, which I found difficult to believe. I went inside and across the room, seated below an enormous crucifix were three people with lists of names in front of them. That's about as sobering a sight as you ever want to see early in the morning and if the coffee didn't wake me up, this did. I went to the A-G table and gave the volunteer my driver's license and voter's registration card. "I need to see a photo ID", he said. Uh-oh. The guy at the H-N table, having nothing to do, pointed out that my driver's license had a photo on it. A-G started looking through his roster at all the last names that start with C. "You're not in here", he said. "Clark is my last name", I pointed out, trying to be helpful. "My last name is Brooks." He looked up and said, "Your name is what?". "Look under B for Brooks" "No, about Clark being your first name. That isn't your last name?", he queried, squinting at me suspiciously. "No sir. No, it isn't." He rolled his eyes, sighed heavily and looked at the B section. Yep, there I was! He handed me a ballot, still looking at me suspiciously. "Initial...well,, just initial right here. Initials are fine", he said, indicating a line on the roster by my name. I did so and H-N said, "No, he doesn't sign there, you do" to A-G. "It'll be all right", A-G grumbled. Clearly, one of them had done this before but I'm still not sure which one. All I wanted to know was if my vote would count. A supervisor came over, examined everything and confirmed that it was fine. Still, the whole thing took less time than it did to navigate through the school zone between McDonald's and the church. largely because of the absence of anything that could be called a crowd but also because I'm a registered independent and had exactly three things to vote for on my ballot, a seat on the school board and a couple of judges.

One of the drawbacks of being a registered independent is you can't vote in any party primaries and that's really what this election was all about. I didn't really mind though. If I were a Republican, I'd have had to choose between Bill McCollum and Rick Scott, which is kind of like caring about which turd finds it's way to the bottom of the bowl first. On the Democratic side, there was little doubt that Alex Sink would win, which is fine with me as that's who I'll be voting for in the "real" election.
A race I cared about but didn't have a say in because of where I live was the one for Hillsborough County District 3 County Commissioner. I backed Valerie Goddard, even though I couldn't vote for her. She came in second to Les Miller, which is a shame, but the important thing is incumbent Kevin White, a true human piece of garbage, lost, finishing third out of three candidates. Calling White a douchebag is an insult to an item that actually serves a purpose.
So overall, good job, democracy!

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