Tuesday, February 05, 2008

You Stay Super, America

Okay, Super Tuesday states-- all I ask of you is to keep things interesting. I don't want to be bored next week. For in order to restore the confidence of the American public in the electoral process, the Commonwealth of Virginia has made me its newest election official.

I'll be working at the polls at the Virginia primary on February 12, because I want to plunge myself into my new state and because I wish to truly become a part of the election process and because the Election Board said that it will give me one hundred dollars.

Virginia is hosting a dual primary. This calls for a complicated precinct-based voting system which consists of a red binder and a blue binder on a folding table. I am not allowed to ask the voters which party they belong to; instead, I must say, "Which primary are you voting in?", and distribute the appropriate ballot, because then, and only then, will I know whether or not I'm supposed to hate this person.

I am forbidden, by law, to answer any questions about the candidates. This is, unfortunately, tied to the rule prohibiting me from denying anyone a ballot, which makes me very sad, because anybody who approaches the polling place and seeks voting advice from the blonde handing out the ballots has absolutely no business voting in the first place. It's to the point where I am not even permitted to distribute information about who's on which ballot; if somebody shambles up to me and yells, "I like the guy who wears shoes! Which piece of paper is he on?" I must instead direct the person study to a sample ballot in search of his candidate, and hope that he gets permanently lost on his way back to the booth.

These are all real-life, official laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I know, because a PowerPoint presentation told me so.

Becoming an election official was an excellent career move, for at the training session I was the square root of everybody else's age. Having just turned thirty-one, it was immensely satisfying for someone to turn to me and say, "How nice to see some young people here!" When the session opens with the staff handing out pins to people who have been working the polls longer than I've been alive, and ends with the crowd gasping in total amazement when an animated GIF of a donkey and an elephant appeared on the screen, I have no right to anxiously duck out to the ladies' room mirror in search of wrinkles.

The session instilled confidence in the Electoral Board from the start, beginning as it did with a series of hand-markered directional signs taped to a succession of garbage cans. The first turn led me to directly face the bathroom, but fortunately there was another Sharpie-created arrow affixed to the skirt of the lady sign, so I mazed my way to a mega-secret conference room which contained reams of sample ballots and, I would hope, an explanation as to why Virginia has no awesomely named state parks like Kentucky does. (This, however, is a right valiant effort.)

There was much discussion about what to do if a voter returns to us with an uncast ballot in his or her hand and requests one for the other party instead. In that case, I am to go to the Blue Or Red Binder Of Democracy, and find that person's name, and write down "VCM", which means "Voter Should Be Removed From Genetic Pool." I was warned that this would happen more than once. "You know," said the trainer confidentially, "how people are." (i.e., cosmically stupid.)

Also covered was the expectation that everyone treat disabled voters with respect, which threw a real wrench in my day, given that I was planning to meet each wheelchair with a broomstick in the spokes and a cherry "Gimps ain't allowed up in here!"

I'm expected to report for work at five o'clock in the morning, which will seriously mess with my sleep cycle, because that's normally right about when I'm going to bed. I'll keep you updated on any Sharpie-related developments.

diebold accu-vote at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com


Kris said...

The square root of everyone's ages! HA! You kill me!

Anonymous said...

I can't take full credit for that one, I'm afraid. Like I could come up with an accurate math joke all by myself.

Red Pill Junkie said...

"Gimps ain't allowed up in here!"


Good luck out there. The 5:00 a.m. schedule sure blows :-(

Anonymous said...

The funniest election blog post on the net so far!

Cruising for Diamonds said...

Thanks for a big laugh, MB! I am already so sick of the political garbage being thrown at us but your funny perspective makes it more bearable! Thanks for the many laughs you give us!

Sara N

dmclean said...

MB: I hope I'm drinking responsibly and tastefully with this comment about your sly state park link. You've saluted Robert Preston and Joe Nuxhall, and now you've linked to Big Bone Lick State Park...my life is complete. I spent my childhood snickering in the back seat as I passed the sign on the way to and from visiting relatives in KY. But do you know that, according to both Mapquest and Google, the park is on (I kid you not) Beaver Road? And that the closest town is (wait for it) Beaver Lick? This is my favorite discovery since finding out that hymn # 69 in the 1975 Southern Baptist Hymnal is "O For A Thousand Tongues."

Cbell said...

Having voted in a Super Tuesday state... I participated yesterday in my very first exit poll. It is good to know my opinion will now be forever documented in the annals of Super Tuesday statistics and factoids.

Good luck next week!

Anne from Iowa said...

Wow! My husband and I were just speaking about getting involved in our local political process. Like your area, the people manning the books are mostle older Americans. What will happen when they are unable to?

Yeah, so my husband um, poo-poo'd the idea. I'm going to have to work on him.

Pam said...

MB, even before I clicked on the link, I knew which Ky State Park you meant. I've lived in Kentucky all my life, and I actually had to go to Big Bone Lick State Park for a class field trip. What sucked the most -- we spent 8 hours traveling to and from, but only spent 2 hours at the park.

Some insight into that unfortunate name -- that particular area is a natural salt lick for wild animals. They have large statues of wooly mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers, some picnic tables, and a gift shop. But that was 18 years ago -- there could be a Starbucks there now.


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