I voted already this morning. My husband, daughter and I went to the local high school, polling place for District 1 of our town, and voted. Who I voted for really doesn’t matter (especially since I live in an uncontested blue state). What matters is I voted.
And (not surprisingly) voting in Connecticut was similar yet dissimilar to voting in California.
This morning is cool, less than thirty degrees. I wore a light ski parka when I took the dogs out. Beautiful frost coated the deck, the lawn, the windshield of my truck. I could see my breath. When I was a little kid, I loved to see my breath. It meant winter was coming. Winter meant Christmas. But that’s another blog. This morning I did my chores and got ready to go vote. I like being able to vote. I want a say in my government.
We took the Volvo because it had been in the garage—no frost—and drove to the high school. There in the parking lot volunteer firemen were directing traffic. There was traffic. Men dressed in suits, women in suits and heels, people in casual clothes, parents with children, all streamed into the gymnasium. In the corridor outside the gym, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts sat at tables and sold popcorn and cookies. The girls were doing better.
Inside a sign said “vote by street.” Signs broke down the alphabet and workers sat at tables for each segment. This was different than southern California. For a long time, voters in my small precinct would go to a neighbor’s garage to cast our ballots. Afterwards, we’d stand in the driveway and chat. Eventually precincts would share a site—the recreational room in a senior development, classrooms at the Lutheran church, the multipurpose room at the local junior high. Volunteers and sites were scarce. When we came in to vote, we gave our names. We gave our streets. We signed on a line next to our name and address. We got our ballots, a long thin manila sheet with names and propositions listed on it. We went into a booth, slid the ballot onto a slot next to a booklet and were promptly confused.
I was confused today. I looked at the signs with the letters of the alphabet and started to M-S. This was the wrong line. My old street started with a P. My current street starts with a T. My husband got me into the right line and excused my behavior by telling the workers that it was too early for me. I was definitely discombobulated. After learning we were from California, the two women working our table joked about my gloves (no one else is wearing them) and asked if we plan to stay in Connecticut. Laughing makes me feel at home, reminds me of voting in a neighbor’s garage. One woman asked if we lost power last night because she did. This too is a community event.
I showed my license, was given a ballot in a file folder, and was directed to a booth, any booth. The ballot was one large sheet of paper with a table of names. The column across the top listed political offices. The column on the left side listed party affiliation. Names filled in the rest of the table. Easiest ballot ever to read. One takes a black marker and completely fills in the oval by the name of one’s candidate. Done. Feed the ballot box. Turn in the file folder. Get a sticker.
On our way out, we buy Girl Scout cookies and Boy Scout caramel corn. When I ask the scouts if they were missing school today, the scout master tells me that the schools are closed. “Two of them are being used as polling places so the students are off. Last election we had 98% turnout.”
May the turnout be so large in all our districts and precincts today. Don’t forget to vote.