Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Will Not Be Taking The Day Off Work On Nov. 4

Here is the official Hillbilly Mom Rural Missouri Yard-Sign Poll from Monday. In a visual survey of approximately 200 yards in four towns and two unincorporated areas between 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on October 27, our poll showed McCain leading Obama 73% to 27%. Raw data totaled 21 McCain/Palin signs, 8 Obama/Biden or Obama signs, and one faded Confederate flag on an actual regulation flagpole. I think it was safe to include that flag in the McCain column. It must be noted that one yard had TWO Obama/Biden signs, so they are either really, really going to vote for Obama, or somebody stole a sign from another yard and put it there.

I have been planning my voting routine for next Tuesday. We can't vote early out here in Hillmomba. In fact, voting is a bit of a chore. When I lived in town, and worked for the unemployment office, where we did not look up people's confidential wage information just because they were mentioned in a debate, I voted two blocks away at the local firehouse. I could vote really early in the morning, around 6:00, and still make it to work in St. Louis on time. Oh, and the State of Missouri, my official employer, would allow us up to 2.5 hours off work to vote. That makes a difference if you have a 90-minute drive on a good traffic day, and get off work at 4:30. My carpool driver and I always preferred to get it over with first, and not take the 2.5 hour handout.

Once HH and I built and moved into the Mansion out here in Hillmomba, our polling place changed. And not for the better. We live 5 miles outside the nearest town. We vote at a little church about two miles past the turn-off to the Mansion. It's on a blind curve on a winding lettered state highway, with a parking lot that holds about 15 cars if they're not all LSUVs. The voting area is in the basement of the church. It's a real basement. Up over a toe-catcher of a threshold, and down about 6 dark-red-carpeted stairs with no handrail. I, myself, prefer a handrail, as I assume most of the frail old people who vote there would prefer, but what are you gonna do? I don't think private church places have to comply with the ADA, or else they just haven't had a complaint. Though I suspect a gaggle of prayin' bitter gunclingers would rally around a wheelchair-bound voter and hand-carry that wheelchair up and down those steps. Once they set down their guns, of course. Because we're neighborly like that. I make do by going down left leg first instead of just walking down the steps normally, because I don't always trust my twice-operated knee not to give out and embarrass me with no handrail to save face.

Once you get to the basement proper, there is a line of two or three long tables set together with the white-haired volunteer ladies. The first two have giant books of alphabetical printouts with registered voters. First they have to look up your name, then you have to show a picture ID, then you sign the book beside your name. I don't know if it's a state rule to show ID, but they ask for it at my polling place. No fancy schmancy computer verification for US.

Therein lies a problem. About 3 years ago, my name started being left off the rolls. Go figure. I voted in the same elections HH voted in. We have lived out here for 10 years. Nothing has changed, not even our phone number. Yet there would be HH's name, and not mine. Even his brother who moved into town from Las Vegas, and was only here about a year and a half, would be listed. But not me. So they would take me out of line, over to the counter where the church kitchen was, and take a little bitty keyboard and a phone-looking electronic gewgaw, and check somehow with the courthouse records, and make me fill out a change of address card with my SAME address, mind you, to get me back on the rolls. Finally, after 3 times, that seems to have worked, because I was on there the last time. I will be hoppin' mad if it's messed up again this year. I guess my point is that you can't always cry racism when somebody gets left off the voter rolls, because it has happened to me out here in lily-white Americana 3 times in the last 4 years.

After you are verified as a real person who has registered to vote in time for the election, you go down the table to get your ballot. Sometimes they ask if you want a Democratic or Republican ballot, depending on what the election is about. Then you sit on a red-cushioned pew along the wall and wait your turn to go into one of the two voting booths, which used to be curtainy little compartments, but lately have been just little flimsy cubicles with an electronic ballot thingy. We only have two of them, so sometimes there's a wait. And there's usually a separate 'booth' if you want a paper ballot instead of going the electronic route. Some people are not patient, and jump up and request the paper one after waiting a while. Because if there's one thing you can say about old people voting...they don't rush through it.

The last two times, I have taken my #1 son into the booth with me (after getting permission from one of the white-hairs) so he could see what it's all about. Poor kid. His birthday is in December. He won't get to vote in a Presidential election until he's 21. That's a shame. He'll first get to vote in the same Presidential election as The Pony, who benefits from a February birthdate. I imagine they'll cancel each other's vote. The #1 son is all hyped up about getting to vote. The Pony couldn't care less.

After voting electronically, you take your ballot thingy to feed into a machine that I suppose tallies the votes. It's like a standardized test answer sheet looking thingy that you feed into something that reminds me of a paper shredder. Then you get a sticker that says you voted. Which is wasted on me, since I'm only going to drive home in the dark and rip it off my shirt and throw it away.

With all these precautions, I seriously doubt there will be any irregularities at my polling place. The only thing I noticed one time was people standing out on the short 5-foot sidewalk with signs. They were not handing out anything, just holding signs. I don't think they were far enough away, but they didn't sway my opinion, so I considered it no harm, no foul. Maybe they measured from the actual voting booth or something. Because if they had been the right distance from the door, they would have been getting run over in the road, or standing in the woods.

My biggest concern is that the mini-parking-lot will be full, and I'll have trouble getting in to vote. I'm going right after school. That means I can get there around 4:00. That should leave me plenty of time. Alas, I don't think my little buddy can go with me to vote in this historic election. He will have basketball practice from 5:00 to 7:00. His grandma might have to ferry him to and fro that day. She votes early. I am not going to fret if there is a line at my polling place. Because all signs point to a McCain majority out here in the heartland, and that will only mean more votes for not-Obama.

I think I can squeeze in a full day of work and still make history on November 4.


DeadpanAnn said...

I already made history. I cast an absentee ballot a few days ago since I'll apparently be recovering from a c-section on election day.

I drive through a very black neighborhood on my way to and from work every day. For the last two years, every day I've passed a little store where there was a small black & white sign out front that said, "Gold teeth - 2 for $100." About a month ago, the sign disappeared. The next day, it was back, but it said, "Obama t-shirts and hats inside." Call me racist, but I find it hilarious that you can get your gold teeth and your Obama gear in the same place. Around here, you can predict what neighborhoods will have Obama signs vs McCain signs based almost entirely on race. The only white neighborhoods that have Obama signs are near the university where all the hippies live.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Miss Ann,
All of our neighborhoods are rather homogeneous. There was one run-down white house with peeling paint, not even vinyl siding, that had an old white Obama sign. I felt kind of sorry for it. Like they are HOPING that this tax refund thingy will bring them more money and prosperity.

We don't even have hippies around here. And I can't imagine where I would go to get gold teeth.