There are many things that nearly never change in my apartment building. Bud has been at the front desk since 1982, the steps leading up to the pool have always been painted a watery turquoise color and the same five people have staffed the community room polling place for every election since I’ve been voting here.
Although I don’t know any of these poll volunteers by name (unless you participate in building activities, it’s hard to learn names around here), we know each other by sight and, though it took them several years to warm up to me, we’ve gotten to the point where they recognize me as someone who belongs and so they are quite friendly when I show up and sign in. Because I was there during the middle of the day, there wasn’t much of a rush, however, the couple of people in line ahead of me were in their nineties and so took an inordinately long time voting.
During the wait, we started to chat about the turnout and the number of people who were registered in the building. Apparently, there are more than 600 people on the books for our precinct, but nearly 100 of them aren’t eligible to vote because they’ve either moved or died. People stay on the books for years after they’ve died, because there’s no good system to purge their names from the polls. We checked to see if my grandparents were still on the books, but they had been removed. However, my Aunt Flora, who died nearly two years ago, was still registered to vote (the potential for corruption is fairly huge here, especially since they weren’t asking for identification when people checked in). They were ridiculously pleased to remove her name from the books and to have a reason to mark down next to why she could be deleted from the rolls.
When I finally got my turn in the voting booth, I stood there for a moment before starting to push buttons. While I miss the ease of Oregon’s absentee ballots, there is something satisfying and connecting about going to a polling place and casting my vote behind a little blue curtain. I was fairly satisfied with the results of the election, although I was surprised, based mostly on the favorable and energetic reception that Barack Obama got when he was in town, that Hillary Clinton won by such a large margin. It will be interesting to see how things turn out.