What it is like to vote absentee

What it is like to vote absentee

A tale from Election 2012

Whether or not the candidates I voted for win or lose, whether or not the proposed amendments to the constitution of the state of Minnesota are passed or not, there is one thing I know for sure about this Election Day: I was not at my polling place.

Say what?

Even though I was geared up to brave a line, then identify myself to the election judge who would have my last name before them, then go into the city council chambers of the Long Lake, MN, city hall, find a spot, fill out my ballot, and then hand it to another judge who would put it in their vote counter machine and accept a red “I Voted” sticker as I went out the door, none of these things happened for me this year.  Personal circumstances dictated that I had to vote in advance. This entailed going up to Long Lake City Hall around nine in the morning and requesting an absentee ballot.

The first step entailed filling out a form where I had to put down my name, address, phone number, etc. The second step required the city clerk to explain what do with the absentee ballot once it was filled out: put it in a yellow envelope, and then put it in a white envelope I had to again fill my name, address, etc. out on as well as have someone who witnessed for me put down their name, address, etc.  

Finally, there was yet another envelope to put the whole shebang in. Luckily, a couple relatives of mine had to vote early as well, so we had ventured to city hall in a group; witnesses would be no problem for any of us.  Finally, the clerk explained we needed to keep the forms we filled out with our ballots once they were completed; she even gave us paper clips as well as pens before she ushered us into a nearby conference room where we wrapped our minds around our ballots.   

Frankly, I wish the state of Minnesota would stop insisting voters have to fill out a little oval they park beside each candidate or proposal. I keep fearing some flinty-eyed election judge will toss my ballot aside because it was not filled out properly for some reason, reducing my vote to a piece of junk that only lawyers would argue over in court in case of a recount!  

So while my relatives got their ballots filled out and slapped into all the envelopes in record time, I wound up playing Tail End Charlie. It did not help that I had not got much sleep the night before, either.   I finally finished, though, and three votes were thus cast in advance of Election Day 2012.

Still, I confess I am a little sad I missed out on actually voting on the “day of decision” this year. As I said, I was ready for the lines and all that kind of jazz that is part of American democracy. But life dictated otherwise.