I am truly and utterly exhausted. Want proof? I left the house this morning with my towel turban still snugly attached to my wet head, and didn’t realize it until I was almost 20 minutes away from home. Needless to say I’m wearing a ponytail today.
Why the forgetfulness? Probably because I’m nearly comatose from one of the wildest Election Day rides I’ve ever been on. I won’t call it a tidal wave, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying the downpour.
Rather than volunteer in the party apparatus as a poll worker this year, I decided it would be more fun to work for a candidate. I ended up working as a team captain for a state representative involved in a fairly contentious race—my job was to make sure the polling place volunteers had adequate food/literature/energy, and to observe the turnout/voter makeup at the polling places. (I’ve chosen not to name the candidate to preserve a bit of anonymity since my job is sort of strange with political affiliation).
Honestly, turnout was up, but that it wasn’t clear who it was benefiting. My candidate draws a high number of swing, independent and unaffiliated voters so voter turnout means less than the good, solid GOTV – passing out lit, signs displayed prominently, and (the best part!) organized labor conducting a walking campaign through the urban part of the district ALL DAY. It was really a sight to behold.
What wasn’t a pretty sight, though, were all of the machine issues taking place. In my area, four out of seven polling places had issues getting the machines up and running. In one case, the machine stopped mid-tally, forcing the voter to wait until they were assured the vote was indeed counted. It was also pretty ugly listening to anecdotes from voters who had been voting at the same polling place for years, only to arrive there this morning to find the location had been changed with no communication whatsoever.
And don’t get me started on everything else that I witnessed yesterday. How about the suddenly missing yard signs; the pro-life zealots blocking entrances; the partisan clerks handing out their party’s “sample ballots” (with the opposite party’s candidates grayed out) at the sign-in table; the inspector who decided he was going to open the machine and count the ballots ahead of time so he wouldn’t have to be at the polls past 6:00; the fact that my name was mysteriously taken out of the voter rolls and after half an hour of phone calls with the Election Board to correct the situation, no one even asked for my ID; candidate posters and brochures inside the polling area, and candidates’ wives participating in electioneering even as voters were headed to the cubicle with their ballot in hand; inspectors telling my volunteers that it was “no use” in their passing out lit because “everyone’s decided around here anyway and you’d be better off going to the black area”; and my personal favorite, a candidate’s RV parked with the engine running in the middle of the street in front of a polling location, forcing drivers go into traffic to get around it. I’ve never seen so many one-fingered salutes in my life.
After all the craziness subsided, I headed over to the special-edition Drinking Liberally Election Night Extravanganza at Spencer’s Stadium Tavern (one of my favorite bars in Indy). Well, there wasn’t exactly an extravaganza, but there were lots of inebriated liberals screaming obscenities and cheering as the returns came in. Kudos to Jason and the DL crew for giving local D’s an alternative hangout to the Marriott… I have nothing against state party hobnobbing, but being in that room during the 2004 returns seriously scarred me for life.
I had a lot of fun at Spencer’s, which I wasn’t expecting, and got fairly drunk, which I also wasn’t expecting. I’m just glad we weren’t playing the “do a shot every time we win a seat” game, because I’d be getting my stomach pumped.
And now, of course, starts the horse race/clusterfuck that will be the primary season. Let the games begin, I suppose.