I just got back from voting (Kerry, of course, but since I live in California, that particular vote probably matters less than the items towards the bottom of the ballot — Yes on M, in particular). It took me one hour, door-to-door, compared to the usual 10 minutes — and the polling place is only a 90-second walk way from my house, in the elementary school cafeteria.
I thought I’d vote early, so I arrived just as the polls opened at 7am — I was not alone. There were about 28 people in line ahead of me (I could tell, because when I finally reached the front, they announced me as number 29). Apparently, there were some problems with the machines, because no one moved for quite a while, but once things began to move, voters went through at a pretty good clip.
The two people immediately ahead of me had registered too recently to be on the main list, but they had paperwork from the Registrar’s office showing that they were entitled to cast a regular ballot, rather than a provisional ballot — but the poll workers hadn’t run into that circumstance yet, so it took them a few minutes to figure out what to do.
One of those voters wanted a paper ballot, as did I, so I had to choose between waiting for her to finish (and it’s a long ballot — both sides of two voting cards!) or voting at one of the tables; I decided to use a table.
Of course, by this time it was nearly 8am, and there were lots of schoolkids in the cafeteria — the teachers were good about keeping them away from the voting, but just as I started the last sheet on the ballot, I discovered why they were in the cafeteria instead of on the playground: they were rehearsing for the winter concert. So I made my last few decisions to the sounds of kids singing “Jingle Bell Rock” (I am not making this up) — I chose to support the school bond issue anyway, though.
By the next election, we’ll have touchscreen machines which generate recountable paper records, and I’ll happily use one of those machines — maybe I’ll get out before the concert begins!