“Democracy demands an educated and informed electorate.” Thomas Jefferson
I am not the most intelligent person in the world. Just ask my family and friends, they’ll be happy to verify. But, when it comes to voting, I like to be prepared. I study the issues, draw my own conclusions, fill out my sample ballot (that the local government was kind enough to provide), and go to my precinct and cast my vote. Quickly, I might add, with the help of the handy-dandy sample ballot.
Election day, 2012. I went to my polling place and stood in line with the rest of the patriotic souls who chose not to participate in the ‘Early Voting’ or the ‘Mail Ballot’. We vote the old-fashioned way. On Election Day. So, I can only blame myself for what I was forced to witness at the precinct.
I stood in line for a short while outside, playing a game on my phone, appearing oblivious to those around me. One couple had a mildly heated exchange because the woman laughed at the man for cutting, rather than folding, his voter ID card in half, and leaving the wrong half at home.
Most of the people in line chatted pleasantly with one another. Some in English, some in Spanish, but all seeming to enjoy the relative cool day and camaraderie of exercising the right to vote.
Once inside, I took my ballot, went to the (quasi-) private booth, pulled out my cheat sheet (a/k/a sample ballot), and proceeded to fill in my choices. It was the woman in the next booth that gave me pause. She was speaking to one of the precinct volunteers.
“What does this, Amendment One mean? I mean, who’s it gonna benefit?”
I was under the impression it was a rhetorical question. The two had been standing there when I arrived, and the Amendment questions were at the end of the four-page ballot. I was mistaken. She truly expected an answer.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” replied the volunteer. “I can’t discuss that with you.”
“So, you don’t know either?”
“Ma’am, it would be inappropriate for me to discuss–”
“Yeah, yeah, but how should I vote?”
I shook my head, deciding the woman was messing with the poor volunteer.
“I’m sorry, ma’am–”
“Yeah, I heard that. OK, what about Amendment Four?”
“Ma’am, if you don’t need any more help with the ballot–”
“I do! But what good are you? You won’t tell me who you voted for, you can’t tell me what the Amendments mean, and you got no opinion on the Judge issue.”
At this point, I leaned out of my booth just to get a look at the idiot speaking. There stood a short, round, angry woman, glaring up at the unfortunate volunteer whose smile seemed to have been chiseled into place. The volunteer glanced at me, still smiling that creepy smile, and walked away.
At that moment I grew a deep respect for those ultra-patriotic souls who volunteer to man our precincts. Then I ducked my head back in my booth and prayed the woman didn’t notice me. I will confess to the temptation of handing her my cheat sheet before I left, and saying something along the lines of, “Here, copy this.”
You know, I’m all for the right to vote. But, I’m leaning toward the camp proposing testing to earn the Voter ID card.
God help the USA.