I voted...in a polling place! It's sort of not as magical once you do it, but I'll admit that I was excited about it. I had visions of red, white, and blue striped curtains, getting an "I voted" sticker, and a fog machine that made it seem really mysterious and secretive about what you were doing in the booth. I also expected various contraptions and levers and hanging chads. Boy was I wrong on all accounts!
I registered to vote in Oregon when I turned 18 in the summer of 95. I voted in my first election from Spokane, WA, and then my second, third and fourth. I voted my fifth election in Oregon from Jersey City, New Jersey. I don't remember if I switched my voter registration my first year or second year in Denver (I didn't switch my license until my second year). But in all those elections for Oregon, I mailed my ballot in. Even after I registered in Colorado, I still chose to do mail-in ballots because I typically worked 8:30 am - 9:00 pm on Tuesdays. I heard so much about the long lines and waits to vote in person, generally didn't have a car at my disposal to connect the dots of home, work, and polling place, and always enjoyed being able to sit at home with my information and ballot and "complete the line" (Colorado's method of filling in the circle).
So yep, today was my first time going to a polling place. I was off to a rough start when my father-in-law told me I go to Luna Community College, but my card says I go to the Springer Town Hall. My alarm went off this morning right as they began reading the polling places for Colfax County, and it was confirmed on the radio that Springer Town Hall is not a polling place. I left home with my sample ballot in hand; Thomas and I had a good discussion about the ballot with the help of the League of Women Voters last night. So sample ballot and my ID, along with everything I would need for a day at the office, like a Christmas Tree, piled into the car and headed into the sunrise.
I cruised past the Town Hall and all the empty parking spaces, not even a bike on a rack. Guess I need to write the newly elected Secretary of State about fixing the polling place listing online and on registration cards. I rounded the corner and headed to the community college a block away. It, too, looked pretty dead. I wound my way around the block to the backside and saw three cars in a parking lot. Then I notice the little yellow triangle along the driveway that read "VOTE HERE" in 18 point font and the paper on one of the building doors that also read "VOTE HERE VOTE HERE" in 18 point font....not exactly large enough when you're driving the 25 mph speed limit. I parked, walked in and down the hallway, and turned into the classroom/polling room. Three small cardboard booths with no curtains lined one wall, a big table in the middle of the room had some papers on it, including a stack of sample ballots (maybe people like to practice filling in the circles before the official one?). One girl sat in the far corner, and three others sat behind a table. I handed the lady my ID. She found my name on the list, right below Alice, Daniel, Julie, Mike, and Thomas. Julie had already been through. I signed my name as she told the guy next to her "382". He wrote 382 on a slip of paper and handed it to me. The next guy handed me the ballot and said the pencils were in the booths.
There were no curtains, no patriotic music in the background, no fog machine.... It was a bit of a let down. I didn't even get a sticker. I filled in my bubbles and looked around. The girl in the corner said to stick my ballot in a machine with a feeder tray - a scantron of sorts. She took the slip of paper that said "382", what I thought would be my only souvenir of the momentous first time voting in a booth instead of an armchair. I walked out, got in my car, and headed to work. Now it's just feels like any other day of the week.....