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Friday, October 31, 2008

Early Voting at the Library

Hubby needs to go vote today, he is not a stand in line person--it will drive him crazy. I've tipped him off the best I can to where and when he should go in order to encounter the least lines--but he'll likely have a 2 hour wait even with that help.He has delayed too long, the lines are getting worse. However the election board has not mailed back his change of adress which went in when mine did--so we don't know why--but at this point there's nothing we can do. He'll have to go to early voting where he can still change his registration he can't risk waiting until Tuesday and hope it comes in the mail.

I voted at work Tuesday. I was extremely lucky in that I could work while I was waiting. The polls close at 7 pm so at 7 any of us who were in the line got a card which meant we could vote that night no matter how late it got til everyone was done. At about 2 minutes to 7 I ran and got at the end of the line so the 'vote nazi' could hand me a card. I then pocketed my card --you could sell these things!-- and went back to work. Lucky for me the line that night was only about 2 hours and 15minutes so I only had to be back in line after closing for about 10 or 15 minutes.

Since then things have gotten even slower, the average line at our location now is at least 3 hours, closer to 4 all day and all evening. We have 2 more days of early voting. This is near the end of week 2.

It is difficult for library employees.Some have to work late to accomodate keeping the building open. We're hampered in many of our usual routines. We can't have programs as usual, its hard to get through the line to do anything and our patrons can't find a place to park or get to our book drops because of the lines.

We have a line from the side of our building going around the corner, up the steps, into the foyer where it wraps around in a circle about 6 people thick and blocks the inside book drop and half of the doors. The Fire Dept got involved this week and forced some changes in the parking situation, and there's been discussion about who owns parking spots in the shopping area near the library. The line on rainy days really got out of hand when all the doors were blocked. Once this line gets into the building, folks still have over an hour wait before they get to the voting machines. The line inside is from the front doors through the side of our popular library collection, across the children's department and into our smallish community room where there are only 6 voting machines. The line is about 6 thick.

Elderly folks have been vying for chairs, diabetics have been getting dizzy and we now keep candy at our desk for them. Children and young parents I think have it the worst. One little guy about 18 months old screamed for a good hour while his mom waited yesterday. Library workers aren't real used to that going on, nor are our patrons.

We have a constant background crowd noise in the library all day and evening.Kind of like always being at a concert. It really does get on the staff's nerves. We're happy about the turnout--but we've had this going on in our branch for a good two weeks and the noise just makes you cranky, you can't help it. You get headaches and just wish it was over.

Parking is a huge issue. The stores near the library are upset--business is hurt. Staff can no longer park at our branch. Employees now must park about 3 blocks away. We can't leave for lunch.

Then there are the poll workers, headed up by an man I've begun to refer to as 'The Vote Nazi'. You cross him and its 'no vote, no vote for you!'. This crew includes some folks whose job is apparently to sit. Most are busy, but some I don't know--are they moral support? One guy just hangs out near the door and sometimes in our staff lounge drinking our coffee. There's no place 'quiet' in library land. Not even the break room--and we've started to eat more and more in the workroom so our food doesn't disappear!

As crazy and annoying as this is, we generally are maintaining a cheery attitude at work--I think because we all know its still nothing to complain about--Voting is something everyone feels is worth the annoyance. In this election I haven't met many who don't think it matters- no matter what choice they are making. That's great I think.

I also still think back to those Iraqis with the purple tipped fingers who had walked in danger to cast their votes. I don't know how the new government in Iraq will go in the long run--I think it seems that Islamist countries just revert to some sort of oppressive government eventually--but for that brief shining moment a few years back, they did show us all what it can cost to vote.

Because of that I don't get up in arms over this, afterall our forefathers sacrificed a great deal for us to have this great privilege and duty.

Yet-- this could work more smoothly and I still find it annoying and wish they would do something to improve it. Hopefully some things will improve next time.

I think voting online should become an option, if we can do so many other things it seems to make sense, especially in areas with huge populations like Mecklenburg county where there are probably more than half a million folks living. We really need to do early voting cuz if everyone came the same day--yikes!

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