I tried to vote, twice.
At least that’s what the poll workers thought Tuesday.
After standing in line for 35 minutes Tuesday to vote, I was
informed I had already cast my ballot during early voting. So early
in fact, my votes were received Oct. 22.
I stood shocked and in disbelief. How could I possibly have
voted when I had not filled in any bubbles, put my ballot into the
machine or received my “I voted” sticker?
I assured the volunteers I had not voted previously. That, yes I
was Janet Babb and that my birthday was indeed in June – but to no
avail. To them, I had voted.
After a few calls, and confirmation that I was not married, had
not moved and had not changed my name, I was given the option of
filling out a provisional ballot.
As I filled out my name, address, Social Security number and
other personal information (that I had already filled out on my
voter registration and was already on my voting card), I began to
wonder if it was worth the trouble.
How many people did this happen to? How many registered voters
didn’t turn out to vote; yet, somehow their vote got counted? Does
each of our votes really count? And even more important, do
provisional ballots ever get counted?
So where are the provisional ballots today? Are election
officials stacking them into boxes and making a run to the city
landfill? Are they roasting marshmallows on the flames from these
provisional ballots as I type this Tuesday night?
Probably not, but how would anyone ever know?
As I left the poll after filling out my provisional ballot
(since I had “already” voted) I was handed a piece of paper with a
number on it. With this number I can call after Nov. 18 to see if
my ballot was counted. According to the paper, “provisional ballots
are reviewed after the election by a Provisional Board, which is
represented by two or more political parties and the public. Based
on eligibility, the Provisional Board will determine whether your
ballot is counted.”
Great. How is this going to help my country or me? If my vote
doesn’t even get looked at until 16 days after the election, what
difference does my vote make?
These questions infuriate me. As a journalist and passionate
individual, I believe strongly in the right to vote and in
exercising this right. But to encourage individuals to vote, each
person must feel his or her vote counts. And, right now, I can’t
guarantee it will.
So as I left the polls Tuesday, instead of talking to a reporter
from another newspaper about my ballot choices, I spoke to poll
monitors. I gave my complaint and I stressed my utter frustration
with the system. While there may not be anyone to blame for this
mishap, I wonder when the kinks of our election system will finally
be worked out. And when each and every vote is counted.
But until then, I’m wondering where I can pick up my sticker:
“Did I vote?”