This year I actually did not vote at the library even though I work there.
My good friend and I decided to work on our ballots together. That's one thing I'm grateful for about voting early...by choice I can fill out my ballot while talking it over with someone else. We had a mix-up about where we were going to meet. I thought I was going to her house, she thought she was going to mine. By chance I had the use of the car, and I arrived at her house only to have her housemate tell me she was going to a friend's house, "Onji?" Oh, that's me. Enji to some. I called her, she came back to her home.
So she breezes in and flops on the floor in front of the coffee table, her keys and pack on the floor beside us. I've started to look at the voter's guide, and she opens a ballot. I'm talking about the ballot measures, and I realize she's been marking candidates on my ballot. Oops. Not only that, she already signed the envelope. After some teasing about committing a Class C Felony (no not really) and her housemate breezing by and saying that happened to him too and the ballot was accepted, we moved on. We had one different choice in local candidates, so she marked my choice on her ballot. Just to be sure my ballot wouldn't be rejected, with one crossed out signature, and my own above it, the next day I turned it in at the elections office. I just needed to black out her signature more thoroughly with a sharpie, and sign again in the white space on the envelope for good measure, just to be sure I hadn't scrunched my letters. I do know someone whose ballot was rejected because her signature didn't match well enough.
I turned in my and my sweetie's ballots on the 20th. I was hoping to avoid the cascade of campaign ads by turning it in early. I think it stopped most, but I'm still getting one or two oversize postcards a day.
So I didn't vote at the library. Nevertheless I am grateful for voting at the library, and I am proud that I have a tiny part in supporting the cogs of democracy.
My coworkers and I have noticed that even though our signs are just shy of blinking neon, a noticeable number of people still ask where they can drop their ballots. (Circulation checkout is just to the left of the area in the photo above.) We suspect it is because people want some kind of recognition they are voting. One person today asked my coworker (his friend) to bless his ballot, and when I feigned umbrage, me too. We joked there should be a bell that dings, or bubbles or confetti released.
While a certain amount of the solemnity of the voting ritual is lost, the ease of being able to vote at the library, or by mail, or at a number of ballot drop-off sites certainly makes the process more democratic. As of today, 42% of the possible votes in my county are already in. Actually, that is slightly down from this time in 2004. Turnout is about a day behind. Get crackin' Oregon voters! The decisions are easy this time. Just vote yes on Measures 54-57, and no on the rest of the state measures. If you're not voting for Obama, may I suggest a good therapist?
Back to the gratitude of this post. I am grateful I can vote. I am grateful I can be reasonably sure my vote will count, and there is a paper trail that can foil tampering. I am grateful that having so many options makes it easier for all Oregonians to vote, not just the ones who have the luxury to take time off work, and the time to stand in line at a polling place on Tuesday. I am grateful to witness the sincere urgency and pride many people have in placing their ballots in the box.