Some More Election-Day Anecdotes

I’m remembering more after a few hours of sleep.

An elderly Russian man brought in his vote by mail envelope. “Dropping off your vote-by-mail envelope, sir?” I ask. “No! I vote here in person!” It took a few rounds to explain, and then he added “what, you didn’t check my ID? Why not?” “Well, sir, your signature is on the envelope, and they’ll check that before they count your vote.” He shrugs. “Where is my vodka?” he asks on the way out. I was confused until a clerk pointed out that, in Russia, they used to provide vodka at the polls to encourage voting.

A 93-year-old woman came in, she was listed as Vote-by-Mail. Whenever she heard the words “vote-by-mail”, she complained loudly “I don’t want to vote by mail, I want to vote here!” It took 5 minutes to figure out that she had indeed received a vote-by-mail ballot and had torn it up. The good thing about a voter admitting that they tore up their VBM ballot is that it leads to a clear explanation of why they have to vote provisionally: how can we know that you tore up your ballot? We have to check that you didn’t send it in, and then we’ll count your vote here.

It was pretty clear from her case and from a number of others that there’s a huge Vote-by-Mail push in California: folks are being switched to Vote-by-Mail without realizing it, sometimes against their wishes. When I voted early at the Santa Clara County Registry of Voters, they had a big “thermometer goal” graphic for number of Vote-by-Mail voters. I’m disappointed, but it may well be inevitable at this point.

We paralellized up to approximately 15 simultaneous voters thanks to… extra tables and pens. As a result, our line was never more than 15-20 minutes long. One the one touch-screen machine we had, one guy literally spent 30 minutes looking over his options, reading the propositions, etc…