I have had two incidents in the past week that have turned me against voting by mail. (Absentee ballots are fine; if you aren’t going to be in town, you contact the county, and they send you a ballot. Fair enough). But here in California they sent us an actual ballot, unsolicited. How do they know I’m still at this address, or for that matter how do they know I’m still alive. Or how do they know the ballot will get delivered to them after I vote. And therein lies the tale.
I decided to vote. I filled out the ballot as carefully as I could (see previous blog) and put it out for the post person to take. Two hours later the three year old daughter of our next door neighbor brought me a stack of mail. She asked if these were ours. Yep, six letters all addressed to me and delivered to her house. And guess what, one of them was my ballot. Yikes. I have heard of misdirected ballots but this happened to me. What if they had simply tossed it in the trash?
The second incident was a tad more horrifying. I was speaking to a friend who told me that he had received a ballot for his recently deceased mother. He was very proud of himself. He opened it, voted, forged his mother’s name, and mailed it in. Just how many times does that have to happen to change the outcome of an election? In some cases one changed vote per precinct can change everything.
When I was growing up the polling place where my parents voted was in a private home, next door to our house. Those staffing the place were an equal number Democrat and Republican. Also, between them they knew personally virtually everyone in the precinct. The ballots were hand marked, counted at the precinct, and the results called in to the county seat. I doubt if there were more than 500 in the precinct. The judges (the folks working the election were called judges) kept everything on an even keel.
In our case, the homeowner where the election was held also served food to those who came to vote. She had breakfast ready for the early voters, a quick lunch and full dinner for those coming later. Everyone, including the kids, looked forward to Pearl’s house on election day.
Last election I voted at a fire station which has four precincts rolled into one place. You figure out which precinct you are in, go to that line, sign there, and get your ballot. The chances of you knowing any of the “judges” or frankly anyone else who is voting, is nil.
This year, you can vote anywhere you want. I guess the names are on line so you can go to any polling place, and they will look up whether or not you have already voted, and if not, allow you to vote. It takes all the personal feelings about the election away. You are just another faceless voter among the masses, not a neighbor from down the street exercising your right to vote.
I know its old fashioned, but I miss Pearl’s house as a place to vote. It was personal, its was fair, and how can you be upset if you just had an order of eggs and bacon after you voted. There were no harsh words when people got together to vote at Pearl’s. She would have a thing or two to say about that.