A Random Rant: Line-Cutting for Democracy

I have a story to tell you. Just humor me.

So I went to vote on Saturday. It had totally escaped my attention that you could vote early ON SATURDAYS, and so I went on the last possible day to vote early. Natch. Why not just wait until election day? Because my precinct is 30 minutes from where I work and I don’t get off work until 6 p.m. and the precinct closes at 7 and omg did I not want to deal with all that.

So I check the early voting wait times early in the day, and we’re talking 20 minutes. I decide to go home and gather Mister Mister and get some lunch first. And by the time we’re done eating, the website is showing an estimated wait time of an hour and 30 minutes. I still really don’t want to put it off until Tuesday, so Mister Mister drops me off in the longest line known to man, and I’m standing there about 3 minutes before an election official starts coming around asking if anybody is doing a mail-in ballot. And election stuff in general being poorly promoted and understood, everybody stares at him blankly. So he explains that while it’s too late to request that they mail you a ballot, you can pick UP a mail-in ballot and either go outside/to your car/home and fill it out and drop it off that day, or go sometime between now and Tuesday at 7 p.m. and drop it off at one of several locations. It sounds like there’s a catch, right? And so people are all, is there a catch? And he’s like haha no, there’s no catch. So if you want one, come with me.

OK, here’s the thing. This is a long ass mother effing line. And people are aware — SURELY — that they will be in this line for hours. And you know how many people went with him? Like, four. Me included.

We go up and we wait by the front door, because the official letting people in can only take like 1 voter and 1 mail-in person at a time, because you have to show your stuff to the registration person. And almost immediately, people at the front of the line start bitching. “Um, I’ve been waiting 2 hours. What’s going on?” As if an election official is just going to randomly fast-track people (although the funny thing is, I offhandedly commented to Mister Mister that they should have an express line for pregnant women, old people, and children*, and the whole mail-in shebang is basically that). So he explains what’s going on — these people aren’t cutting, they’re not even voting, they’re just going to pick up a ballot, like 2 minutes, so shhh. And they’re like, “OK because I’ve been waiting 2 hours.” And he’s like, “Yes I know, don’t worry.” And they’re like, “Just make sure that lady in there knows that they’re not voting. Because, really, 2 hours.”

And I’m trying to ignore them because this is the type of stuff that makes me boil with rage. I don’t know, maybe he *justthen* started going through and letting people know about the mail-in ballots, but judging from the fact that of the roughly 50 people at the end of the line, FOUR of us chose that option, I”m guessing 1. They weren’t listening or 2. They chose not to do that. So, it’s basically their problem that they waited in like for two hours.

Side note: Mister Mister has a theory that the reason why so few people choose the mail-in option is because they view standing in line for 2 hours to vote as a badge of honor. Which, fair theory.

Anyway.

I go in finally, and get up to the registration lady, and it appears there’s like a small hub-bub starting outside. Part of it is people being idiots and walking up and seeing four people in cluster off to the side, and 45 million people in a long line around the block, and assuming the real line to vote is the four-person cluster. But the gatekeeper lady takes me up and tells the lady at the desk that I’m an absentee and need a mail-in ballot, and the lady at the desk goes, “OK, well just so you know, you’ve got a problem with your lines outside, because people are cutting.” And because I’m a delicate flower, I immediately take offense and get uncomfortable. And the gatekeeper says, “No, they’re absentee. Which is why I came up here and just told you, she’s an absentee.” And the desk lady says, “OK well, just saying, people are waiting in line for 2 hours, so it’s not really fair.”

DUDE. That’s how it WORKS. It’s fair, because there is an option. You can stand in line and vote right there, or you can just pick up a ballot and mail/drop it off. OPTIONS, PEOPLE. Which is the whole point of living in a free country.

So that whole confrontation happened right in front of me, and gatekeeper walks away, and desk lady says, not very apologetically, “I wasn’t really talking about you.” Oh, OK, you were just talking about the other absentee people who are “line-cutters.”

We go about the whole thing, which takes abouttttt 45 seconds, and I hear shit starting outside. “I’VE BEEN IN LINE FOR 2 HOURS, AND NOW YOU’RE PUTTING PEOPLE IN FRONT OF ME.” And desk lady pauses and shakes her head and says to nobody in particular, but sort of to me, “See? We have voters complaining to my people and I just don’t think it’s fair.” So I finally say something, because I just can’t with this anymore.

“I just want you to know that they are going through and telling everybody in line about the mail-in ballot option.”

“Oh,” she says, “Is that what’s going on?”

“Yes. Everybody should know about it, and people are choosing to stay in line. If somebody tells me I can just come in and pick up a mail-in ballot, I’m going to do it, not stand in line. OK?”

And then I walk away. And there’s kind of a small scuffle occurring outside.

Apparently other people were coming out after voting and lodging “official” complaints about the mail-in ballot contingent.

And here’s my thing, and then I’m done: Who the eff cares? When somebody cuts in line, it means it’s a regular voter who, like you, has chosen to vote at the polling location, and is truly setting you back by taking 40 minutes in the booth to read over every single amendment and Google it because they didn’t bother to do their homework. When somebody exercises an available option to take 45 seconds to pick up a ballot, that’s not affecting you at all, except in some conceptual way where you feel you’re being slighted. And we’re all always about that, where things are perceived as fair and not fair, when really, you’ve made a choice to not be that person who’s in and out in 10 minutes, whether you realize you’ve made that choice or not.

Actually, there’s not really a point to this story. I just wanted to complain, because I feel slighted by the people who were complaining.

I guess in the end, I’m just as bad.

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3 thoughts on “A Random Rant: Line-Cutting for Democracy

  1. […] had the bulk of our celebration on Saturday. The day was busy for me — chiropractor, haircut, trying to vote and ending up picking up a mail-in ballot instead — but after all that and a nap, we headed down to Anna Maria Island to eat at one of our […]

  2. So I just found your blog from Weddingbee (I’m currently waiting to hear if I got accepted to be a Bee blogger…starting to think it’s unlikely, but anyways) and I have to say, I absolutely LOVE your posts, especially this one. I totally understand why you would be frustrated: I feel like sometimes people just want something to complain about (and I mean, again, I’m just as bad, because, like you said, then I complain about the people who complain!).

    Oh dear am I rambly. But anyway, I’m excited to start following your blog!

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