So I went downtown yesterday afternoon to vote early. There was a short line over here and a long line over there. Hm. Turns out that the short line was for picking up absentee ballots. I was about to strike out for the long line when someone pointed out that I could pick up my absentee ballot, fill it out right there, and slip it into the slot.
Okay. So I waited in line for about half an hour instead of an hour or more. My ballot will be opened and counted at seven o'clock on Election Day, although how they'll all be opened at the same time is far beyond me.
I stood in line behind a tall handsome blond man about my age. He was wearing sunglasses, so it was hard to see what he was up to. We chatted like a couple of comrades. Then a man got in line behind me: fortyish, darker. There was a small feeling of camaraderie which perked up when we started talking with the young Democrat who was thanking voters for voting and handing out lists of the Democratic candidates on the ballot, as if we couldn't tell the sheep from the goats from the "(DEM)" following each of our candidates.
She was young and dark with funny hair (a brush-cut on one side and chin-length on the other) and moderate facial piercings. She showed us the tattoo on her shin, a red-and-blue sign in Uncle Sam typeface saying I VOTED. The, uh, tat was free, which was not only cool, but awesome.
At first she seemed official -- all that thanking, I suppose -- but then it occurred to us that she couldn't be official if she's so blatantly a Democrat. So the man behind me asked listeners in general why we thought there weren't any Republican young folks here, handing out literature, showing off body art, thanking the voters.
My instinct was to say because Republicans don't vote early. And you know why I think that? Because I only get Democrat propaganda in my Inbox, urging me to vote early. Yes. That finally hit me. Obama's party is spending a gazillion dollars to preach to the choir. Ditto McCain's party.
That seems odd, and yet what are the chances of my responding well to a bid from McCain? I suppose they aim at the fence-sitters whenever they spot them.
Well, the man behind me answered his own question. He said there are no Republican cheerleaders out here because Republicans all have jobs and they're at work now. The implication, of course, was that those of us standing in line right then were Democrats and out of work or at least sloughing off.
This unemployed registered Green can't argue with that, although I could almost feel the mud sliding down my face. (Sorry. It didn't occur to me till later that night that he was standing there, too ...)
"Really, though," I said, pursuing his question, "why do you think they aren't here?" He just kept repeating his they all have jobs answer, which was pissing me off, which it was calculated to do. So I decided to ignore him.
I sure know how to hurt a guy.
He turned out to be a Republican, which shattered an entire cabinet full of preconceived ideas I'd had about early voting.
Then he talked about picking up an absentee ballot for his wife. I hate to say it, but it seems logical, at first, to think that's okay. If we're all picking up forms to fill out, I'll get one for you, too. Right. But then we'd all be at home, voting our little brains out. So no. No, he can't pick up a form for his wife. Oh dear. And there she sits in the car.
I, in an heroic burst of generosity, opened the door again. "Well, where's your car?" I asked. Why, it was just down the street. The tall man in front of me said, "Go get her. We'll hold your place in line."
"No we won't," I muttered, but they either didn't hear me or pretended not to.
When they returned, the wife at least had the decency to shush him when he started making his not-joke about all the Republicans being at work.
Then the man in front of me, despite his charming smile and mysterious eyes, said he's a Republican, too. Would the outrage never end? He said he's switching sides in this election, though. "Why?" queried the comedian.
"Oh, so many reasons!" he exclaimed, and let it go at that.
After that, we got general and friendly and, after all, a good time was had.
I was concerned about my signature. There's a signature on record, and the signature on my ballot has to match that in order for my vote to count. I can't imagine being able to replicate it, but the clerk assured me that the sample I showed would pass. Whew.
On the drive home, I endangered my species by calling my friend Debby. She's waiting till Election Day to vote. She figures that even if all people assigned to her voting spot show up, it's still a short enough line. I agree. And my friend Lee said early voting is a way to prevent us from changing our minds. Mike said some of the amendments I voted for or against (depending on what the Voters' Guide at http://www.stonewallpinellas.org/ said) had just been removed from the ballot, so I voted needlessly on them.
I guess I voted early because my Inbox is full of nudges to do so. And it seemed historic. When I'm in The Home, we'll be talking about it, rocking and spitting. Oh yeah. Remember ought-eight? I voted early. You?