Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sheep In A Booth.

Well, your civic-minded Sheep did her part to keep the wheels of Democracy running smoothly today and proudly cast her ballot. Sheep are known far and wide as supporters of "the process."

I am one of the lucky ones. I get to vote in a "small town." Seriously...it doesn't get any better than this. We all troop up to the local high school in order that we might make known our political wishes. And when I say, "all" I do mean all. My town is small enough that we only need one polling place. You actually know several of the people on the ballot and often base your vote on that knowledge. "How is that Bob thinks he can pull off being Treasurer? He doesn't even mow his lawn, fa cryin' out loud!" Good times...

Up until six years ago, our voting process went as follows. We all entered the gym and followed the hand-lettered signs to tables marked with other signs indicating where we should register based on our last name. We gave our names to the sweet little old ladies manning the first stop in our salute to the Democratic process, then gave them again as the sweet little old ladies really couldn't hear us what with all the echoing in the high school gym. We were then handed our ballots, given our voting instructions and sent on our way. And they always called us, "dear."

Once safely ensconced within the security of the booth with the red, white and blue canvas flap carefully positioned between us and any possible prying eyes, we were faced with the following: a metal shelf upon which to support our ballot, typed and laminated examples of proper ballot marking and a golf pencil. That's right...a golf pencil. And it was attached to the booth frame with fishing line. We then marked our ballots by placing an X in the correct boxes. The X must not go outside of the box or your ballot was null and void.

When finished, we took our ballots to "the guy." The Guy was positioned next to a large, wooden box. As you stood before the box, The Guy pulled back the sliding cover and you dropped your ballot into the box. Year after year it was the same Guy. Always in a plaid flannel shirt and always in a jaunty cap. Sure, after a few political seasons, someone needed to get The Guy a stool from the shop class so that he could rest a bit but otherwise, there was little in the way of change.

And we respected the process. No one challenged The Guy's authority over the box. In fact, great care was taken to avoid making contact with the box during the drop process as we all sort of believed that the mere touch of our hand might invalidate the ballots and cast us all back to the days of the monarchy.

When we were done, he thanked us kindly and sent us off to get our sticker. The nice, round one that says, "I voted today!" I mean, I vote because it's the right thing to do and all. But, seriously...I'll do anything for a sticker. I loves me a good sticker...

All this changed in 2000, however. My little town decided to upgrade a bit and I found myself faced with a "ballot-sucker" when I completed the voting process. Frankly, the missing golf pencil should have been a clue, but I didn't catch it. I guess I assumed that they ran out and replaced them with the black markers. My fellow voters and I were all somewhat flummoxed when it was time to formally cast our ballot. Gone was The Guy. The big blue box was no more. We were being asked to slide our ballot into a fancy, shmancy gizmo that sucked it right out of our hands!

Voting took a little bit longer that year.

In the intervening years, we have all gotten a bit more comfortable with the process and hardly anyone flinches when they put their ballot in the sucker-thingy. But I still wonder what happened to The Guy. He isn't standing there with that quiet air of dignity, monitoring the machine. My guess is that he took his box and went home after the 2000 election and just sits beside it reminiscing about days gone by come November. I miss him.

And no one gave me a sticker this year. Poop.

Here's hoping that everyone made it out today and cast their ballots. You may not get to elect the dude with the best kept lawn or watch leery locals attempt to get their minds around such new fangled technology as a ballot-sucker, but you get to be heard. And that does matter.

Like many folks, I sometimes wonder if there is a chance for peace in our time. However, tonight, I saw evidence of hope in this era of strife. Two creatures who have harbored utter hatred in their hearts for one another saw fit to unite in one awe inspiring gesture to warm their Sheepy Mommy as she knit on the couch.

Yes...the parties can work together for the common good!
Well, for ten minutes at any rate...


Mel said...

Hmmmm, I didn't get a sticker, either, but then, the polls were pretty busy by the time I got there - two hours delayed by a 'paca emergency - so maybe they just ran out.

Sheila said...

In all my years of voting, I've never even been OFFERED a sticker.... I'm feeling jipped! I mean, how often does an adult get rewarded for good behavior with a sticker?
I ordered a shawl pin from Knitter's Review Boutique, and it came with a "knit happens" sticker -that was cool.
Anyway, glad to see the wee-uns are tolerating each other.

mrichme said...

Try voting with CamMad in tow, not as easy as it should be. Just remember now that you voted you have the right to complain about the government and politics.

I'm going to miss Tim Russert's white board tonight. That was when voting really changed (although the vote sucker is a close second).

Julie said...

Damn! I can't see the picture and I just KNOW it's gotta be the kitties. I'm coming back later to check it out.

The Mitzster said...

Heh D and P, I think we should get to vote!!!

The humans havent done such a great job picking leaders...all those in favor of Gigolo Kitty for pres. paws UP!!!!!

The Mitz

Beth said...

Really, your cats hate each other?

You know what, I'm going to send you our extra sticker. It's from another state, but that doesn't matter, does it? At our polling place they give stickers to the kids, too. Being 12, my daughter didn't really want hers and stuck it in my knitting bag. So now it can be all yours and you'll feel a little better. :)

April said...

Best post ever.

Now I miss The Guy.


catsmum said...

Now y'see I find all this fascinating because here in OZtralia, voting is compulsory at every level from local council on up through state and federal. There are fines if you don't vote once you hit 18. There are fines if you don't REGISTER to vote once you hit 18 ... and we STILL manage to elect the wrong people!

laurie in maine said...

Yup. Pretty much the same evolution of voting changes here. Except this year we've changed again from "connect the line" to "fill in the bubble." Same state...different small town, ayuh.

NO STICKER here this year either!!

My daughter was whining about it when she got home from her second voting experience ever :) I have 2002's sticker - still stuck to my bicycle - which I rode around the block to my place of paying taxes...er...voting.

We need more PEACE so if it begins at home among the kitties, so be it!

Oh, and welcome to mommy & daddy sheep! I remember "thinking" I wanted to be adopted by spinning wheel gifting sheepy parental units.
Does that count? Who's holding my place in that adoption line?!

Cathy said...

I got a sticker! I voted. And from the looks of it, my guy got governor but I have no idea who lost their mind and voted against my people/refs/mendments and beat me out. Obviously, these people didn't have fluffy kitties on their knitting to help them think things thru.

Anyway. I didn't vote in the local elections the first 2 times coz I was trying to figure out the players. Once I figured out the players I realized I still didn't know squat about them so I just go by how many times they were complained about in the local newspaper's editorial page. (I am not fond of the local paper's politics).

Anonymous said...

Your modern voting process is the same as ours, without the curtain though. We vote at ye olde town hall. We used to have an old guy who manned the sucking box. I noticed him missing the last time we voted and he hasn't been replaced. I have never gotten a sticker for voting:( I did take H to vote for the first time and she was intimidated by the process but said she felt good once it was done.
The kitties look quite tolerant of each other.

Lorraine said...

Our polling place keeps changing. This year, we were in an apartment building lobby?!? Lousy parking but I planned my time for a less crazy time and got a good spot. Oh, and a sticker! And although we have the ballot sucky thing, we still get the guy manning it, which was a good thing, 'cause some people couldn't figure out how to push the ballot in. Go figure!

Debby said...

You described our voting process (and I live in a big town for New England), other than that once we're in the booth, we push metal levers down (instead of X-ing our choices and putting cards in the box). I have great fondness for this process and hope we never go to computers -- There is something about those vintage fabric privacy curtains and the lever I remember from my childhood, when my dad used to take me in, that should stay sacred. And nobody gave me a sticker either. :(

trek said...

We had new touch screen booths this year. But no stickers.

Annie said...

The kitties are adorable! Are they Maine Coon cats?

aija said...

I've been an absentee voter since forever, but always walk my ballot in to get an "i voted" sticker :)