Tuesday, November 2, 2004

I Voted

I got to the polling place, the Coral Gables Youth Center, at about five minutes after four. There was no line, but the parking lot was full. I wasn’t sure if that was for the poll or the normal afternoon activities at the center. There was a handful of electioneers outside the fifty-foot limit. One guy with a Bush-Cheney sign asked me, “Going to vote?” to which I wanted to reply, “No, I’m here to pick up my dry-cleaning.”

There wasn’t a line, but the room was crowded. I didn’t have to wait to present my credentials, and I didn’t have to wait for a machine; just for someone to turn it on. They are using the iVotronic machine, the same one I’ve used both here and at the precinct where I voted in the March primary.

The ballot in this precinct is twelve pages. I whipped out my guide clipped from the Miami Herald. The first choice: President of the United States.

For a second I paused, looking at the other names on the ballot. There were eight slots. I’d never heard of most of them; James Harris of the SWP (Socialist Workers Party, I guess) in slot 15, Michael A. Peroutka of the CPF (I have no idea) in 12, Walter F. Brown of the SPF (again; huh?) in slot 16. But there was no doubt about the guy in slot 11. I poised my finger over the glowing pixels of the X next to JOHN F. KERRY. The red check mark lit up like a beacon.

I went through the rest of the ballot according to my crib sheet (Betty Castor for Senate, Sam Sheldon for Congress) and reviewed my choices at the end. The VOTE button flashed and I punched it. I had renewed my lease as a citizen.

The counter at the bottom of the screen said I was #59. I asked a couple of the poll workers if they had been busy, and one said that from 7 a.m. to noon the line had been out the door. He said the traffic had been steady ever since. I asked if me being #59 was typical of all the machines, and they said yes. So by 4:20, the time I had finished voting, they had had over 700 people. I asked if that was unusual, and he said no, but that they had heard that already a third of the precinct had voted by Early Voting, and lines there had been around the block. I thanked them and left. And by the way, I didn’t see anyone there who was readily identifiable as a “Poll Watcher;” everyone working was either working for the Board of Elections or the police.

I went back outside. The Bush-Cheney guy hollered at me, “Go Bush!” to which I wanted to reply, “Yes, go back to Texas!” But I didn’t have to answer back. I had just done it, and in the way that has the best chance of making that command come true.