Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

It’s finally here. Election Day! I’ve been waiting for this day for weeks. It feels bigger than my birthday, Halloween, or any of the six holidays recognized with a paid day off at my job. (I know ... six!) I have been on tenterhooks waiting for this day. No, I am not running for office. No, I am not campaigning for anyone who is running for office. I am just ready for the campaigns to stop. Seriously.

Over the past few weeks, one mayoral candidate’s recorded message system has called me more often than all the members of my family and friends combined. Or maybe it just feels like that because after the first time hearing from a candidate I find the calls annoying. The same candidate also sent me several full-color postcards featuring him smiling, always in a polo shirt. I appreciate the love and attention. Really, I do. But I have tired of looking at your face, oh candidate for mayor. The same face that stares at me from a vinyl poster at every major intersection in town. It’s beginning to feel a little like stalking. But you do win points for visibility.

Another mayoral candidate evidently decided to save money on mailings and sent her three poster-sized mailers addressed jointly to me and my former housemate. Really? I am an individual voter. I know mailers are expensive, I work in marketing. But the jointly addressed mail – with his name listed first, thanks to the magic of alphabetization – made me feel trivialized. Idea: make the photos of your fabulous self a little smaller, maybe use 2 instead of 20, reduce the size of the mailing piece, and send one to each voter individually.

As for the other five contenders for mayor … they have spared me mailings and calls. One dude has a zeppelin shaped balloon floating over College Street and is going to fight for me. The sign on his truck says so. Too bad about the mailings though, as I saved all campaign mail received in a semi-neat pile, and read it immediately before heading to the polls. Promises. Lies. Finger pointing. As juicy as a soap opera script.

On the state side of things, the Republicans campaigned hard for someone from the other camp to NOT be elected. I received three postcards from the incumbent’s campaign, touting his “four-year record of service” … and four much larger mailers of the negative variety illustrating previous “unpaid cell phone bills (wow. $600 worth!?!), wasteful government spending, and higher taxes on small businesses.” Hmmm….I work for one of those small businesses, and I think the partners are plenty taxed already. More taxes for them means no raises for us little folks and/or vacated positions not filled so the rest of us get to work more for the same paycheck.

While the campaign season was aggravating, the act of voting was an almost painless event. My ward’s voting place was well marked from the street -- big “Vote Here” signs at the entry to the parking lot. Unfortunately, they neglected to mark the building entrances. People were wandering around the building, trying various doors. The logical choice -- the front door -- had a note reading “Please use side door.” Sure. It’s a four sided building, where do I begin? The correct side door featured a weathered piece of paper with a note in faded orange highlighter telling “Teachers” to do something.  A nice “Vote Here” sign on the entry door would have spared a lot of perimeter wandering.

Once inside, I completed my “voter application” and was directed to “the D section” at another table. And there I stood, signature ID and application in hand. And stood. And stood some more, shifting my weight from one foot to the other. The volunteer tending the “D-G” section was very, very busy. She was busy chatting with the volunteer lady next to her. I cleared my throat a little -- I was trying hard to be nice and remember that these are volunteers working. And I use the term ‘working’ loosely. They are also seemingly people with plenty of time on their hands and no place else to be. I, however, was supposed to be at work. I was a bit curious as to how long this might go on, but finally, a lady two chairs down the table caught my lady’s eye (the good one, without the cataract) and said “Um, Mary, that lady is ready.” Thank you helpful lady tending another section of the alphabet. And Mary proceeded to try to find my name in her listing that seemed to be printed in a rather small size, even for younger, unclouded eyes. A check mark, a signature, and I was directed to “the lady in the purple shirt” for my civic act of voting.

A quick run-through of the operation of the machine. No booth. No curtain. No separation from the rest of the room. Disappointing. There went my plan to photograph the ballot with my cell phone. Just for kicks, you know. I reviewed the surprisingly lengthy list of names running for Governor. I had heard of a couple, but the rest? No idea. There were 16 names on there. I swear I am not making this up. A Republican, a Democrat, plus 14 Independent Candidates. There were seven people running for mayor. Evidently, appearing on an election ballot must have been on a few people’s bucket list.

On my way out, I saw several people wandering around the building, zombie -like (how trendy!). I directed the ones nearest me to the proper entry door. And off I went, surprisingly arriving at work not much later than usual.

After today, the mailbox will feel emptier. My cell phone will vibrate less. I will have fewer voice mail messages. And instead of tuning out the political ads on TV, I can transfer that energy to trying to ignore the Christmas shopping ads. All part of the cycle of life.

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