Voting In the Dark

Got a phone call early this morning from Erik, a friend who lives in the same neighborhood as I. He was warning me that the voting center had a power failure and we now had to go to a fire station and vote by hand, as in writing everything out the long way. He recommended getting a head start as the lines were starting to grow.

On my way out the door, I stopped and looked at the paper and saw that the other voting center in our town was closed due to flooding and all the people in that part of town were also being sent to the fire station. Uh oh.

So I splashed my way to my truck and drove down to the fire station, noting the dimmed traffic signals along the way. The fire station had power and according to the people there, so did my real designated voting location. "They just got the power back on, so please head up there to vote, it will be easier for you." Or so the lady said.

I hop into my truck and drive back towards my neighborhood and notice that all the traffic lights are still out. Nevertheless, I head down the road towards the ecumenical church that serves as our voting station -- Is it wrong of me to be disturbed by the fact that we vote in a church? Can't we at least pretend to have separation of church and state anymore? -- and instantly notice the loud rumbling of a generator. Uh oh...

Once inside, I find that the generator is being used solely for powering the ballot collection machine. I see a row of tables staffed with various seniors from the community. Some are holding pen-lights, others are wearing the kind of Petzl headlamps that I use when reading at night in a tent, others are holding an assortment of battery-powered flashlights and lanterns. It's extremely dark inside. Finally, the elderly asian lady I check in with realizes that my name, Walsh, doesn't start with a D (Doug is my first name) nor an M (the book is facing you, maam, not me) and hands me my ballot.

I cozy up to one of the pop-on dome lights you see advertised for closets on tv and find a ballpoint pen. My head hurts from trying to read in such darkness. Finally, my eyes adjust to the limited light and a couple minutes later -- sorry Dave -- I'm done. The generator-powered machine is still running on all cylinders and my ballot is sucked into its depths. I'm free to leave.

On the way home I got to thinking about the efffects the flooding is going to possibly have on election results. Obviously nobody would ever wish for towns to suffer significant flooding or for people to experience a loss of property (or worse) but most of the flooding is in rural, small-town areas of western Washington. And rural small-town residents tend to vote Republican. For some towns, there is likely to be a lot fewer voters making it to the polls -- if there are polls left -- and that could prove to help the Democrats. Especially in the case of the Burner/Reichert race as that one was pretty close. On the other hand, there's a pretty big property-rights initiative up for vote and the opponents of it need all of the rural voters they can get to see to it that Washington doesn't end up making the same mistake Oregon made. Just an interesting sidebar. I'll return to talking about gory videogames after my next cup of coffee.

No comments: