In San Francisco on Telegraph Hill the rich folk all use the “absentee” ballot – opting out for the actual hands on voting. So my polling place, a garage at the dead end of Montgomery Street with the million dollar view of downtown, the Bay Bridge and the hills of Oakland, which is usually deserted, was actually rather busy. The six voting booths were in use, and the three giggling Chinese girls that “man” the polling station were very apologetic. One of them stated that perhaps the large turnout was because both Starbucks and Ben and Jerry’s had promised coffee and ice cream to anyone sporting an “I Voted” sticker. Perhaps she was right?
Either way I had to wait ten whole minutes in the sunny but windy 57 degree weather while six individuals took their sweet time connecting the center of the voting arrows with a black felt tip marker. The seventh voting booth, the computerized booth, which supposedly San Francisco is striving to install in all its voting stations, was not working and shoved off in a corner.
An older gentleman finally emerged from one of the booths but it was only to get another ballot. He had to do his over as he’d made a mistake. The giggling girls were not amused.
As I was waiting a woman arrived and was shocked she couldn’t vote immediately.
“I have to be somewhere,” she protested.
Then the old guy came back for another ballot. This time the girls told him he had to stop making mistakes and rolled their eyes as they handed him another ballot. I mumbled something about if only it were that easy. The impatient woman asked me what I had said.
“I said if only it were that easy to just stop making mistakes in one’s life.”
She stared at me as if I’d told her I smoked crack.
Then it was my turn. And even though I had brought a cheat sheet listing all the propositions and ballot measures and candidates for school board, judges and supervisor – I was still worried I’d mess up and incur the disapproval of the giggling girls, or worse not get my “I Voted” sticker and miss out on the Ben and Jerry’s/Starbucks extravaganza.
One interesting note: absentee ballots are counted last. So for once rich folks are last….