No biggie, actually – but there was a unique experience.
At the old house, our polling place was usually at the elementary school that was literally 250 yards down the block. No hardship involved. Now it’s a mile or so away, so still not much of big deal.
It’s a big church auditorium, so there are actually three or four precincts voting there. You go to the pink table or the green table or the yellow table or the blue table… When I pulled up about 6:30 after getting out of work it looked like a 15-20 minute wait in line. Not so! That’s the line for folks who didn’t know which table they were supposed to go to or who wanted to get a provisional ballot. There were plenty of polling place workers who were more than happy to help steer those of us with our voting materials straight to the table we needed. It took 30 seconds to get to my table.
I gave them my information, signed in, got my ballot – and things got odd.
Behind me I heard someone talking to the polling place worker at the table. It was a young guy, maybe 20, asking if he could vote. But he didn’t know if he was registered or not. He didn’t think so, but didn’t know. I think it was pretty obvious that he was a first-time voter and very confused about what was happening and what he was supposed to be doing or have done.
The polling place worker was telling the guy that if he hadn’t registered to vote, then he couldn’t vote. Better luck next time. The kid was about to leave.
When someone intervened, interrupted, and got involved. Somewhat surprisingly, I realized it was me.
One thing that I’ve seen over and over and over in the last few weeks is that California is a state where you can walk up, register, and cast a provisional ballot on the spot. You just have to ask for it.
The kid obviously didn’t know that. Unfortunately, neither did the polling place worker. Fortunately, I did.
So I politely corrected the worker and pointed out what I had seen hundreds of times in the past week from reputable and neutral sources. He disagreed, said that he had never heard of that. So I went and got the supervisor for our section, who said, “OF COURSE that’s the law, obviously! OF COURSE this guy can vote with a provisional ballot!”
The supervisor was very helpful and quick to verify that the kid could vote and then walked him through the process.
I went and did my voting, and finished up about the same time as the kid did. As we were leaving I was repeatedly thanked for helping by both the kid and the polling place supervisor.
That felt great, but I don’t think that I did that much. Better than the thanks was knowing that this young man got to vote for the first time in his life. And that he was excited about it. And that despite his anxiety and uncertainty, he carried on anyway and got it done.
It was a good day to vote. I hope you did as well.