Instead of wearing an “I voted early” sticker, I would much rather wear an “I voted early so stop calling me” sticker. For it is no exaggeration that we receive at least 30 calls a day from Republican groups and candidates.
That said, yesterday was the day I had scheduled to vote early. Several times this week, while driving by the polling place, I noticed the lines were long so I decided to set aside a specific block of time to vote.
My husband who had voted at lunch said it took him about an hour. However, my plan was to cut that time in half by voting during what I thought would be the afternoon “slow session.”
Wrong! I got there at 3:30pm and began standing in a long line.
The folks behind me in line were chatting it up about President Obama. A man who looked to be about 60, said Obama has not done anything to improve things while in office. (I assumed he was talking about the economy.) That man was talking to a middle aged woman who said Obama’s handling of Benghazi, Libya was disgraceful and he should go before the American people and come clean.
Contrary to my normal behavior I did not say a word, while enjoying what I was hearing and seeing — a seemingly pro-Romney crowd standing in this long line, growing longer as the afternoon wore on.
Now in order to be an early Florida voter you must be very motivated and wear comfortable shoes, for every early voter I know has said it took between 1 to 2 hours to cast their vote.
Well 4:45pm rolled around and the time to exercise my right as an American citizen had finally arrived. Polling staff asked for a photo ID that was promptly scanned. Then they told me to step out of line and wait while they printed my ballot. (PRINTED MY BALLOT.. in case you missed that.)
After about a minute, four legal size pages were placed in a “privacy cover” and handed to me along with a black pen. At that point I was directed to a desk. Fortunately I was able to sit down and vote while others were heading to the stand up voting area after standing in line for over an hour.
With black pen positioned, I was ready to fill in the little ovals next to the candidate names and amendment issues; all of this reminded me of 1960’s test taking technology.
The first names on the ballot were Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Noticing that Romney/Ryan appeared before Obama/Biden made me VERY happy because this was the second time I had seen their names printed first on the Florida ballot. Let me explain.
Last week, while helping my mother fill out her absentee ballot at her nursing home, I noticed Romney/Ryan listed first on the ballot. Immediately I thought the next ballot would have Obama/Biden printed first to even things out. But now, a week later, my ballot also had Romney/Ryan ordered first. This name order piqued my curiosity as to why Romney/Ryan were receiving what I instinctively thought was a positive placement advantage.
Little did I know then just how positive it was.
After I completed my ballot, the poll workers directed me to the ballot scanning machine, where I was instructed to insert my four page ballot, page by page. There, I asked the man monitoring the scanning machine why Romney’s name appeared first on the ballot.
He responded in a harsh tone saying, “That is the way it is and I don’t make the rules,” while my heart was secretly doing a happy dance.
Finally it was 5:15pm when I exited the polling place. When you count the 15 minutes to drive there, my exercise in democracy took two hours.