November 1, 2004

Early voting in Wisconsin.

A new US citizen describes voting in Madison:
I'm a new USA citizen, Australian by birth, who headed down to the Madison City Clerk's office today for early voting. (After the Sept 11th attacks in the USA, and the two Indonesian attacks killing many Australians and others, international security is guiding my decision and therefore Bush wins this new citizen's vote). I waited for about 50 minutes in the early vote line as several outspoken people around me decided to spend the time vocally slamming the incumbent. A woman quietly stood a few paces behind me in line while a larger tattooed gentleman (dressed in a black wife-beater) near her was most obnoxious in his anti-Bush rhetoric. Eventually he decided to address the woman standing near him and he asked her where she was originally from. Unfortunately for her, she answered "Texas," to which he boomed out "uh-oh, I know who you're going to vote for. I guess your vote will null mine!" She said nothing (that I could hear at least). Poor woman. That line was not the greatest environment to be politically outed. Once at the booths I found myself next to the tattooed gentleman, who was loudly voicing to the room that he was voting all democrat.

At this point I was trying to figure out exactly how to vote for the local offices (I got confused since my ward number the city clerk wrote on my envelope was close but different to the district numbers on my ballot. I was worried that they didn't match. I guess I was over-thinking the ballot, but districts and wards were not described in my citizenship study material so I was worried that I was messing something up). I figured since the fellow next to me was so fond of speaking that I might as well ask him to help me, so I covered the left column which I had filled out, and pointed to the other column and asked him if he knew if I was right to be filling out the ballot for those districts. He stared at me blankly and then just said "well, see, all you have to do is vote Democrat, you know, just the one party, just mark the one arrow." I told him I was trying to vote for individuals, not just for one party. His face showed that he was more confused than I was and he ended our interaction by saying "yeah, yeah, just fill it all out" (which did turn out to be correct once I asked a worker).

Amusingly, before he left the booth though, he loudly told the room why he was going to vote "no" to the city referendum on whether to support the building of a pool which would require an exemption to a city ordinance. His reason? "because sure, someone's making a donation to get it built, but it won't be enough, and the difference will come out of my pocket!" If I'd had enough guts I would have turned to him and said "with an attitude like that maybe you should re-think your Democrat vote." Ah well, best not to anger people in such a charged environment. My first voting experience came to an artistic end by using my first grade origami skills to fit the ballot into the envelope (which oddly, was not matched to fit the ballot, a stationary-flub apparently).

UPDATE: I should have been clear that this was emailed to me by a reader (hence no link to a source).

No comments: