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Just got home from voting at the Jewish Community Center that's around the corner from my apartment building.  Took me about 1 minute to walk there and then I stood in line for over an hour waiting to get my ballot.  

As I waited, cognizant of the MUCH longer wait times being reported in Florida, Ohio and elsewhere, I looked around the room to try and understand the "system" that was at work.  When you entered the polling place, you gave your address to one of two folks at the front door.  They then directed voters to one of three lines, corresponding to their district.  My district was one of the two pretty long lines, maybe 15 or so people in line.  I thought, this isn't too bad.  Until the line barely moved.  At the little card table set up at the front of the line, there were three poll workers (I assume they were volunteers) and it was essentially like watching a Three Stooges routine.  The woman on the left had a book with every registered voter's name in alphabetical order.  The voter was supposed to give her their name, she looked it up and then the man next to her gave her the number of the ballot that he was giving to the voter, she wrote that in the book and then had the voter sign under their xeroxed signature to verify they were who they said they were.  Then at the end of the table, a second woman filled out a voter card with some random information and honestly, I still don't know what that was about.  

Even this seems extremely archaic and sort of stupid, it would probably work a bit better if the three poll workers actually knew what they were doing and if they did their jobs instead of fighting with each other.  As my line continued to grow while lines around me shrunk, I began to wonder if the woman with the book had a problem with finding names sorted alphabetically, and I wasn't the only one.  Another poll worker came over and started yelling at her in front of everyone, saying she couldn't spell, etc., and it all became very tense and wrought.  The guy with the ballots was giving the wrong numbers out and the woman at the end of the table with the cards had been filling them out incorrectly all day and was only corrected when I was there at about 2 p.m.  

I kept thinking, there has GOT to be a better way for people to vote!  This is ridiculous.  I know republicans don't want more people to vote and there's that huge obstacle, but I'm not sure that all votes are counted.  Anyway, I tried to stay focused and excited about voting for President Obama and other dems.  But then when I finally got to the table, I was told that I had to cast an Affidavit Ballot, which is sort of a provisional ballot in NY.  Why, you might wonder?  Well, I did move in the last year and then I updated my registration with my new address (in the same district as my old address), but for some reason, even though I received a card in the mail saying I was ready to vote at my new polling place, I wasn't able to vote in the traditional way.  No one in the building could explain to me why that was.  I had no recourse but to cast the provisional ballot.  

So, I did.  But here's the VERY weird thing about it.  There's two parts to the Affidavit Ballot.  First, there's the ballot itself, that doesn't require any personal information.  You just fill out your candidate selections.  And then there is the Affidavit itself, which is printed on the actual envelope that the ballot goes into.  On this envelope, you put your name, address, phone number and party identification.  So, right on the top of this envelope I had to write my name and that I was a democrat (and therefore, was likely voting for democrats).  

And where do these Affidavit Ballots with my party preference boldly written go?  I figured it would be into some sort of special ballot box where they would be counted by hand later.  Nope.  You have to give it to a poll worker.  I had noticed someone who seemed like a manager when I'd been standing in line, so I asked him if he could help me.  The first thing he did was to see if I had written my party affiliation on the Affidavit.  "Oh, I see you wrote Democrat."  I said, "yep."  He said, "okay, I'll take it."  Our eyes met for a second as I wondered what he was going to do with my ballot.  He could tell I was concerned and then showed me an envelope with a couple of other Affidavit Ballots inside.  He put mine in and said it would get counted.  I had no choice but to leave it with him and trust he was right.  I asked if it would be counted today and after hesitating he said it would be a while.  

All of the Affidavit Ballots in that envelope, and in similar envelopes across the state, have the voter's party affiliation written on the outside.  How easy would it be if some of these just never made it to their final destination?  An election worker wouldn't even have to open the envelopes to know who was voted for.  There's literally no record that I came in to vote, if my ballot gets tossed, it was like I was never there.  

As I made my way through the chaos of angry voters and grouchy senior citizens who were stressed by standing in line for an hour or more, I thought about how many New Yorkers have had a really shitty week, even those of us who came through the hurricane unscathed have had to deal with huge inconveniences in transportation, getting gas, losing pay, and worrying about friends and family. Voting for government that will help us in times like this is a critical action we can take to feel like we actually have some control over what happens to us.  Casting a ballot that I can't guarantee will ever be counted really sucks and I feel disgruntled with the whole system, or rather, lack of system.  

I know there's a better way, and I know republicans will never let it get fixed.  They don't want my vote to be counted.  And this time, there's a good chance they'll win.

Yes, I don't live in a swing state, so I guess it's no great loss.  And I know there are a lot of folks in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida (and elsewhere) who are truly being disenfranchised by design as I type.  It pisses me off and I'm sick of my fellow Americans voting for these kinds of scoundrels.  Voting is supposed to be empowering, but today it was more of a let-down.  I can only hope that the election doesn't go that same way.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As far as New York election (0+ / 0-)

    law and procedure go ...

    I know republicans will never let it get fixed isn't quite right -- BOTH parties have traditionally made things are arcane and complicated as possible so that the party bosses maintain the power.

  •  I do voter protection in NY (7+ / 0-)

    What is your AD, ED, and the address of your polling place?

    •  She said the JCC (0+ / 0-)

      That's 76th and Amsterdam, isn't it?

      "Valerie, why am I getting all these emails calling me a classless boor?"

      by TLS66 on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 12:50:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Here's another NYC mess-up story (0+ / 0-)

      from the 74th AD; 56th, 60th, 62nd and 63rd EDs. Friend goes to vote at 10:30 and learns that 2 out of 3 scanning machines aren't functioning, but waits over an hour anyway.  The poll worker at the table doesn't seem to know the alphabet, and after finally finding friend's name writes a different name on the card. Friend eventually votes and tries to report the problem.  After several unsuccessful attempts to reach the Board of Elections and the Congresswoman's office, she reaches the Assemblyman's office and they say they will send someone over.

      At 12 noon, another friend goes to the same polling place, finding a single long line out in the cold. Police at the location say all three scanners are broken, but they have just called the Board of Elections and expect a fix soon. Some people leave, but most stay. Even without a serious contest for any office, people are determined to vote! There's lots of disorganization, but workers and police finally form four lines so more people can wait inside.  There's no wait for the 62nd and 63rd EDs, but long waits for the 56th and 60th.  The ED boundaries bear no proportional relationship to the number of residents.  Poll workers are arguing about who covers the 56th ED table, and the person who covers it isn't adept at alphabetical order.  A second person places the ballot and card in a folder, but provides no instructions on where to go with them in a room now as crowded as a rush hour subway.  Finding a privacy table to fill out the ballot, friend discovers that there are no pens (but there are ribbons which may have held pens).  Poll worker says its OK to use any pen.  Friend waits in line to use a scanner, which now seems to be working.  The person at the front of the line is holding things up because nobody told him to keep the card he got at the table and he doesn't know where it is.  A woman standing at the scanner eventually takes friend's card (with friends name on it) and the ballot (face up, so she can see how friend voted) and scans the ballot.  Friend says "I guess there's no such thing as a secret ballot" to the worker, who just smiles and says other people have made the same comment.  It took over 2 hours for this friend to vote.

      Silver lining: Jimmy Fallon was there voting too (but on the shortest line).

      From these reports and others it's clear the NYC Board of Elections is messing up. Too many machines that don't work, too many incompetent poll workers, poorly drawn election districts, and lack of privacy. Kudos to those doing voter protection.

      And kudos to the voters who waited.  These are people who had no electricity or water last week, as well as some displaced evacuees.

  •  Voter Intimidation, Long Lines & Machine Flipping (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, eXtina, orangeuglad, Sue B

    is being reported across the United States.  The Republican effort to disenfranchise is hitting them square in the face today.  

    They had 8 years.  You would think they would have improved their disgraceful, slip shod efforts to steal the election.

    Today has been a glaring condemnation of Republican legislatures who set this fiasco up w/ their new voter ID laws.  

  •  Had similar feelings, although the wait was short, (4+ / 0-)

    but the election officers at the check-in table were elderly, elderly, elderly.  I knew the lady checking me in.  She's in her 90s and is hard of hearing.  I felt like I was retro-ed back into one of Tim Connelly's World's Oldest Man routines, now in the feminine version.  She has done this same job for elections in this precinct for at least 50 years and not one little change has been made in all that time.

  •  {{{{{{{{{{MusicTheatreMichelle}}}}}}}}}} (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, eXtina, trumpeter

    It appears that we all need a phalanx of personal lawyers to accompany us to the ballot box.

    Every honest communication poses a risk that we will hear something that could challenge or change us. -- Kenneth Cloke

    by GreenMtnState on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 12:53:50 PM PST

    •  Yes! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreenMtnState, orangeuglad

      I truly do appreciate the people who volunteer to work at the polls.  No disrespect to them.  But I'm not sure that the limited training they receive is enough to ensure that everyone votes properly and that no one is disenfranchised due to plain old incompetence.  I don't think a hodge podge of volunteers is good enough to handle something as important as a presidential election in which 100 million people or so will be voting.

    •  You can check your registration status on line (3+ / 0-)

      go to:

      www.votersearch.org

      Insert the limited info requested and it will tell you whether and where you are registered and your status, i.e. active or inactive.

      If you are listed as active, you should have been in the book.  If not, submitting an affidavit ballot should get you reactivated for the next election, and your vote should be counted.

      If you have more questions, call us at 866-693-5201 and ask for Dave G.   I can do a more extensive search of your voting status if I have your first and lasts names.

      •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)

        I appreciate this, Dave.  I WAS in the book, but by my name it said I either had to fill out an Affidavit Ballot or vote by some sort of special machine, which they didn't have.  But I'll check out this website and see what's going on.  I appreciate your help!  

        The weird part to me is that they don't have a more anonymous way for Affidavit Ballots to be cast, which I think could make them prone to being thrown out.  I don't even care about my name, but putting the party affiliation on the outside of the ballot seems like it's asking for trouble.

        Thanks again!

        •  Was there a problem with the scanned signature? (0+ / 0-)

          If it didn't scan in correctly, so they can't compare your sign-in with it, you may have to use an affidavit ballot.  

          Or if you were a first time voter for whom an ID was requred and didn't have one.

          Or maybe they had your old address in the book, not your new address, even though you are in the same AD and ED.

          Hard to say, because you say they didn't explain it to you.

        •  If you are in zip code 10033 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          orangeuglad

          every Michelle in your AD and ED should be listed as Active.

          One Michelle in zip code 10040 is Inactive but is listed as an Independent.  So it looks like you should have been able to vote on a machine, unless there were no working machines (there have been lots of mechanical failures).

  •  same thing happened to the man in front of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, orangeuglad

    me in the second line you describe - they didn't have his signature to corroborate so they said he'd have to fill out an affidavit, only the didn't have any! So they said he could wait an hour and a half while they had some delivered!!!! And this was the first thing in the morning, so it wasn't like they had run out - they never had any.

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 01:05:13 PM PST

    •  That really sucks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eXtina, orangeuglad

      I heard a few other stories that polling places around Manhattan just didn't have all the books and ballots and cards that they needed when they opened.  It's shocking incompetence on someone's part.  I guess the Board of Elections.  I know Minnesota does really well with conducting votes.  Maybe they should be looked at as a national model, because I think NYC is utter mayhem.  The only thing that stops it from falling apart completely is that there are many, many polling places.

      •  el Bloombo was very cynical about the Board of El (0+ / 0-)

        yesterday saying he had no idea whether they'd manage today, so it's obviously a long entrenched problem.

        "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

        by eXtina on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 02:18:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Uggh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    orangeuglad

    I live in New York and am going to vote after work, so this story has me nervous.  

    My wife went to vote this morning at 7:00AM and she said the wait was surprisingly long, poll workers were slow, disorganized, and strangely bureaucratic.  

    I agree that your experience would be very discouraging, although I suspect it was unintentional, since New York is heavily Democratic.  

    Deliberate voter suppression in swing states, on the other hand, is pure evil.  Now that Lee Atwater's "southern strategy" isn't working so well anymore, the last refuge of Republican scoundrels is to prevent anyone who isn't white from voting.

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      orangeuglad

      I didn't feel like my experience was voter suppression in the way it's occurring in the swing states.  I do think there is a lack of competence with the volunteer poll workers, and how could there not be?  These folks don't get much training, the voting centers are sort of chaotic, when they have questions, there isn't an authority figure there to answer them with any clarity, etc.  I was in the book, but still told I had to file an Affidavit Ballot.  I'm okay with that, but I wish it didn't say my party affiliation, because I think that could lead to fraud for any voter.  

      I do recommend that everyone gives themselves more time than they expect it will take to vote.  There is disorganization and a bit of chaos, which sort of encapsulates NYC over the past week, but I'm sure you'll get through fine.  But you'll probably have a bit of a wait.  Good luck!

  •  non-swing states (0+ / 0-)

    Your state isn't considered a swing state - *as long as voters can and do vote the way the pundits assume they are going to! *    

    If half the Dems or Repubs stayed home because they assumed their non-swing state didn't matter, that would change things.  Likewise if a large number of one party's ballots were invalidated.

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