Monday, June 05, 2006

I Fail in My Civic Duty...

For the first time in a long time, I'm going to miss the primaries. I'm leaving home before they begin and returning long after the polls close.

I'm a big believer in primary voting. I have even gone to the polls to vote in the primaries when all local elections were uncontested, and the national nomination was in hand (since I figure I'll give my guy a little more clout when it comes to the party convention). I have even voted in elections in which I knew my vote would be thrown out (not in the primaries, of course -- general elections).

So, for your election day entertainment, an absolutely true dialogue from my first election day --

Me (18 years old): Here's my voter ID card.
Woman at desk (who knows me): Oh, hi Scott. Lemme just mark you out...
Woman at desk: That's funny, your name isn't on the list.
Me: But I'm registered. Here's my card.
Woman at desk: Yes ... there must be some kind of mistake. Go see the county clerk.
County Clerk (who already knows I've been working for the other party -- it being a small town and all -- doesn't look up and doesn't look at the registration card): You have to vote in Washington Township.
Me: Huh? But I live in Center Township.
County Clerk: No, you live in Washington Township.
Me: How could you even know that? I didn't give you my address.
County Clerk (sighing, looking up for the first time): OK, what's your address?
County Clerk: Washington Township.
Me: No, that is Center Township. I should know; I live there. Anyway, if I go all the way out to Washington Township, they'll tell me I don't live there, and by the time I come back here the polls will be closed.
County Clerk: You live in Washington Township.
Me: Look, this is my father. He lives in Center Township. He votes here.
County Clerk: Just because your father lives in Center Township doesn't mean that you do.
Me (having long since lost patience): But I live with him!
County Clerk (apparently familiar with Kafka): Maybe the line bisects your house.
Me (having turned very red. My father puts his hand on my shoulder to prevent homocide. I take a deep breath): Well, that can't be true either. My bedroom is right below his.
County Clerk (without missing a beat): Maybe it bisects your house horizontally.

At this point, I break free from my father's grip and start to go over the counter. Someone I went to high school with (from the Clerk's party) comes at me from the other side and helps my father bum rush me to the door. "Just vote! Just go vote! I'll take care of this!" he shouts. As I leave, I can hear him arguing with the County Clerk.

So, I voted. Even though I can't vote tomorrow, you should vote if you have the chance. Win or lose the election, you always win if you live in a society where you CAN vote.


  1. Amazing story. Was it dunderheaded incompetence or the arrogance of corruption?

    It sounds a bit like both: incompetent corruption by arrogant dunderheads.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  2. It was (and remains) a one-party town. It was corruption. I have lots and lots of other stories to back that up, but none quite so amusing as that one.

    Another fine moment in the political history of the town was when the county had to hire a chauffeur for the sheriff, who had lost his driver's license because the state police had picked him up on too many DUIs.

    By the way, the woman who was county clerk at that time is still very involved in politics.

  3. My mother's a township clerk who has to do the elections. Elections are a big headache for her; people have the oddest notions about voting. She's also a scrupulously fair official who does everything by the book. Not everyone she works with at Town Hall is, though. The stories she tells! Enough to make your hair curl.

  4. Anonymous3:51 PM

    too bad I'm not registered as being a member of any particular political party.

  5. Anonymous8:16 PM

    ...because I really wanted to vote for Roy Moore.

  6. Just got back from voting. *sing-song voice* I'm a better American than you! I'm a better American than you! *LOL*

  7. cappy--

    In Alabama the primaries are Open--no one registers with a given party.

    You don't choose your party until you ask for a ballot.

  8. Anonymous7:24 PM

    ...can you run that by me once more?

  9. Sure: when you fill out your voter registration form in Alabama, as well as in roughly 30 other states, you do not state you party preference. As such, nobody in Alabama is registered as the member of any particular political party.

    Hence, on primary day you have to tell the election worker if you want a Democratic ballot or a Republican ballot. It is at that point you "declare" your party affiliation for that primary.

    Only in states with "closed primaries" do you register ahead of time as a Rep, Dem, etc. and therefore are bound to vote in that party's primary in advance.