"The light shall give the dark of the matter, and new paths shall open to you." - Ravel Puzzlewell

I Voted Early

This morning I walked to the town community center to fulfill my civic duty and vote for this year’s election. I had a sample ballot all prepared so that I would remember who I wanted to vote for for all of the positions such as judges and county commissioners, etc. The candidates that you rarely if ever hear anything about unless you make a significant effort to find out about them. I was very close to the community center when I suddenly realized I’d left the sample ballot at home. I didn’t walk back to get it. I just hoped my choices would jar a memory when I got the real ballot.

Thinking I had been prepared by bringing my Kindle so I could read instead of be bored waiting in line, I didn’t realize that for most of the line, they didn’t allow electronic devices to be turned on. At some point I asked the purpose for that rule since I couldn’t figure out how a Kindle would be able to jam the ballot scanner or hack into anything. The reasoning is that cell phones are distracting (agreed) and there is a concern about the cameras. Since the Kindle isn’t a phone or a camera, I didn’t see how it applied, but nevertheless, I just stood there quietly in line waiting for the moment when it would be over. It didn’t help that someone nearby just really smelled bad, so I felt I could barely breathe. Plus, all the activity and voices around me were also jarring as I’m still not recovered at all from being around people at work, and I’m very sensitive to everything.

I’d brought my voter registration card so I wouldn’t have to tell them how to spell everything, but the lady didn’t want to see it. Apparently, there is less voter fraud by trusting what people say to them rather than them showing any sort of proof of documentation. I could have told them I was Mary Smith (name made up for example) down the street and so long as I knew how to spell my name and address, I would have been in so long as the real Mary Smith hadn’t made an appearance.

Since we have a huge problem with people being in this country illegally, the voting locations decided to make it easier for them to illegally vote as well by printing big posters of instructions in Spanish. Now with very few exceptions, one of the requirements for being a U.S. citizen (and hence allowed to vote) is, “You must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language.” So why the need for all of the voting instructions in any language other than English? If you’re a U.S. citizen, then you should know basic English, right? (I realize that many who have been citizens since birth don’t know basic English either, but I can guarantee you that those same people also do not know Spanish or any other language other than grunts or possibly l33t sp33k since they have to be able to text each other using something.)

And then people wonder why there are issues with voter fraud.

So I proudly wore my “I voted early” sticker home for no one else to see and came to the computer to type up this blog post since all these thoughts were running through my mind on the walk back.

Oh and for the record, I did vote for Obama. He’s less likely to stick me into a binder, after all. 😛

5 Responses to I Voted Early

  1. Rakuno says:

    As a foreigner it is interesting to see how your election system works. It seems so much more complicated than ours here in Brazil.

    For comparison, here is how it works around here. We don’t have juries, county commissioners, etc. We just vote directly for the candidate of our choice. So 1 person, 1 vote. To win a candidate needs to have 51% plus 1 of the valid votes (since we have a choice to null our vote or vote blank, this will probably make more sense in a bit). In the case of a draw then the older candidate ends up winning the election. Although that rarely happens and usually it is on tiny towns with just two candidates. In pretty much everywhere the elections usually start with half a dozen or so candidates from a bunch of different parties. Most of those don’t have any chance of winning, usually it being 2 or 3 candidates with any real chances. When election comes if none of the candidates has 51% plus one vote to win then the two candidates with the most votes go for a second election turn that will happen in a few weeks. During that period both candidates can continue to do their campaigns and try to make alliances with the other candidates who lost the 1st turn of the elections. Then the 2nd turn happens and whoever has the highest number of valid votes win.

    That is how it works for president, governor and mayor. For other positions like the senate it is slightly more complex and has issues of its own that I honestly don’t understand completely to comment. At least as far as senate goes your system seems to work better though. At least I have the impression that people over there knows who they voted for senator and will bug them to make sure they are representing the people’s interests. Around here not so much when it comes to senate, etc.

    Anyhoo, vote here is also obligatory. Everyone between the ages of 18 and 70 have to vote. For ages 16+ and 70+ it is optional. If you can’t vote then you have to fill a form to justify it. Failing to do so will make you lose some documentation plus some other headaches.

    We also have a specific day that everyone must vote. The specific location though vary from each individual, depending on where you took your voting registration card. You have to bring an ID with a picture and have to sign a book. They also do some verification with the number of your voting registration card. Although it seems this year they are doing thumb scanning in some places. Probably by the next election they will try it for everywhere. Once you vote they give you a small piece of paper to prove that you voted.

    Electronic devices are also not allowed here. Probably because of the same reasons there but also because there is the risk of it being misused. For instance, this year we are having elections for mayor here. The 1st turn already happened… about 3 weeks ago, I think. Someone got arrested while they took a picture of the vote they cast. Probably as a way to prove they voted for a candidate who bought her vote.

    So, besides the risk of people selling their votes to a candidate or another, there is overall very little risk of fraud. It is a pretty mature system with a lot of procedures to ensure against it.

    If I am not mistaken, the second turn of the elections for mayor will be this sunday for us. As you can see by my lack of caring for the date, I am not too enthusiastic about the whole thing. It is just that this year all the choices seems terrible. But if I must vote I will vote for the one that seems the least terrible one. I am just fearing he won’t win this time though.

  2. Rebecca says:

    We used to all vote on the one specific day, and we still officially have election day where all voting locations are open, a few years ago, the government began to implement an early voting program, probably to encourage more citizens to register and vote. Early voting starts about a couple weeks earlier than election day and there are specific early voting locations open for people to go vote. Since this program started, I’ve been voting early since the lines are much less shorter than on election day, and I can go on a Saturday and vote rather than try to squeeze it in on a work day.

    Since voting is optional in the U.S., there are lot of campaigns to get people registered to vote, and to actually go vote.

    There are also some current campaigns to require voter identification to help prevent voter fraud, but some people are against it claiming that it would be “too hard” for some people to present an ID when they go to vote and thus it’s discriminatory. Makes no sense to me how a legal citizen wouldn’t have some sort of ID, but that’s the argument against it.

    • Rakuno says:

      A couple corrections. First it seems the requirement for an ID with picture started this year. I guess I never noticed because I always took my ID with me anyway, just in case. Plus there wasn’t any ruckus about it. Just the usual “Here are the things you need to take with you to vote” stuff.

      The second thing is that it seems to have a law that forbids insults, poking fun or criticizing a candidate during the election period. Or something like that. Honestly I don’t know the details as I don’t remember it being divulged around here. I only know about it because it was mentioned in a local TV show here. Apparently the exception to that law are the candidates themselves who exchange accusations against each other that would make four years old look mature by comparison.

      Reporters seems to also still be allowed to thorny questions that the candidates would not like to discuss. But who knows for how long if a law like that was already approved.

      I think it is also a relatively new law since it smells of the previous government since it is smells just like them. And since it is the same party in the current presidency, it is unlikely such an idiotic law will go away any time soon.

      As for things over there…. I didn’t know about those changes that allowed to vote earlier or the campaigns for it. It is interesting.

      I also agree that the excuse that people give against not requiring ID to vote is silly to say the least. Don’t you need to provide ID to get some basic stuff like bank account, get a driver’s license and so on?

      • Rebecca says:

        You do need to provide ID for just about everything else, and even if you can’t qualify for a driver’s license, you can still get a basic picture ID at the driver’s license offices, so there’s really no excuse for anyone not to have some sort of picture ID with an address.

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