Restraining myself while voting

The Quail Hollow precinct at 12:09 p.m. Most of these folks had arrived well before noon, so this is not the lunch rush..

Quail Hollow precinct at 12:09 p.m. All of these people had arrived BEFORE noon (newcomers were still outside), so this is not the lunch-hour rush. In fact, weirdly, it sort of slowed down during lunch hour...

First, several quick Tweets I wrote while standing in the queue:

Standing in a moderately long line at Quail Hollow precinct (I’ve seen longer). 400 voters so far. Man who just left said it took an hour…

Close to 500 voters have shown up so far at Quail Hollow at noon. Veteran poll worker says 700 to 800 is the normal total for all day.

Man behind me tells companions, “This right here might be the most important vote we ever cast.” I agree, but don’t dare ask what HE means.

Not good for Sheheen: My precinct is heavily Republican, my daughter’s is strongly Democratic. Big turnout at mine, a trickle at hers.

A suggestion: If you favor Vincent Sheheen, or merely distrust Nikki Haley, now would be a good time to get your lazy behind out and VOTE.

Of course, on those last couple, I could have been making an incorrect assumption: I’ve heard so many Republicans say they can’t bring themselves to vote for Nikki that maybe, just maybe, enough of them will vote for Vincent. Yeah, that’s a big maybe, and perhaps I’ve just been talking to the brighter sort of Republican, the kind who pay attention and think before they vote. You can’t count on everyone, or even a majority, doing that in an election.

For instance, a friend who usually votes Democratic told me the story of her husband — who ALWAYS votes Republican — a few minutes ago. He has planned all year to vote for Nikki. She asked him this morning before he went to the polls and he said yes, he was still going to vote for. My friend, and her mother, both remonstrated with him about it. Later, he texted his wife to say that he had voted for Vincent. Once he got into the booth, he just couldn’t bring himself to help put Nikki in office.

But now that it’s too late to ask, I find myself really wondering what that man meant when he said, “This right here might be the most important vote we ever cast.” I told my friend in the above anecdote that, and she said she couldn’t imagine a Nikki supporter being that eager to vote. Surely, anyone voting for her, ignoring all her startling negatives, is simply grimly doing what he perceives to be his duty to a party. I told her she was mistaken: Tea Party types think they are part of a great, exciting reform movement. And they seem convinced, despite all the contradictions, that she is part of it, too. They really do, near as I can tell. A Tea Partisan planning to vote for Haley would say something like that.

The same gentleman, discussing the constitutional questions on the ballot with the ladies accompanying him, said it was simple — vote “yes” to all. I restrained myself again. One of the ladies said she wasn’t so sure about that hunting and fishing one, and the man said she probably wouldn’t understand, since she doesn’t hunt and fish. I REALLY held myself back at this point, stopping myself from delivering a soliloquy on how we shouldn’t clutter the state constitution with superfluous language, particularly to indulge our personal whims, and how the issue isn’t whether you’re for hunting or fishing, but whether you think it belongs in the constitution… Such a lecture from me at that time would have been most unseemly, since I was about to violate that principle by voting for constitutional language indulging one of my own political attitudes, which I would normally be dead set against doing. So it’s doubly good that I said nothing.

But the greatest test of my discretion came when I finally got to the booth itself. (Or whatever you call those things, more like a TV table with blinders. A “half-booth,” perhaps.)

It was awkward to step up to the booth at all, because the lady at the one next to me was for some reason standing backed up away and toward me rather than squaring up to her own booth. I could hardly get to mine without brushing against her back. The reason for this became apparent as a poll worker came up to help her with some sort of trouble she was having.

From that point on, I had to struggle to concentrate on my own voting because of the intense scene being played out right at my elbow. At first, I didn’t notice what was said, until the lady bristled, “I don’t appreciate you speaking to me that way! You have no business doing that…”

YOU try not listening to something after hearing that, especially coming from someone you’re practically touching. I mean, I’m a gentleman and all that, but…

BEING a gentleman, I scrupulously didn’t look that way, but I recognized the voice of the poll worker as that of a woman I’ve known for decades. She was using a perfectly professional, calm tone, but she made the mistake of urging the voter to be calm, which really set her off. She was apparently embarrassed at needing help, and extremely sensitive as a result.

At least once more, she demanded that the worker stop “speaking to me that way.” But eventually, she did calm down somewhat, and said that she only cared about voting for two people, and they were both Republicans, so it was probably fine. The worker insisted that it was NOT fine for her to vote a straight Republican ticket if she had not intended to. (God Bless that poll worker! If only it were illegal to surrender your thinking to a party! If only it were not the first choice offered!) They went back and forth on this, with the embarrassed voter wanting it to be over with, and the worker insisting that it was important that her preferences, and only her preferences, be accurately tallied, and that they could fix this…

I don’t know how it came out. But it was hard not to intervene and say “Listen to the poll worker, lady!” But a gentleman doesn’t intervene in, or take any notice at all of, an unseemly disagreement between ladies. Unless it comes of course to fisticuffs, in which case he turns to the other gentlemen present and places wagers…

Imagine a smiley face at the end there…

12 thoughts on “Restraining myself while voting

  1. Barry

    Sounds rough.

    No such stuff at my Kershaw County polling place.

    The poll manager apoligized to the 50 or so of us waiting in line around 9:30am. He apologized for only having 5 voting machines. He said he thought it would be a poor use of taxpayer money to have many more since they are only used every 2 years. (I agreed with him with a simply nod of the head).

    He was telling those in line to take advantage of the info sheets they had on the amendments and to read them before voting. He said typically it takes 30 seconds to vote but their timing showed it was taking over 3 mins per voter because of all the amendments.

    One perfectly reasonable looking man (probably in his 50s) stood at one machine for at least 10 mins. He apparently had never seen the amendments and was reading every word. Course this is just a guess.

    Took me about 30 mins from arrival to exit. About 200 had voted when I arrived at 9:30. That was heavier than usual.

  2. Phillip

    I would echo your daughter’s take. My polling place is at MLK Rec Center near 5 Points…usually goes about 80-85% Dem, and I waltzed in at 10 AM, nobody else around. (A couple of people were there to vote by the time I left). Totally anecdotal, of course, but I take it as a very bad sign for Sheheen.

  3. Doug Ross

    While the votes are still not in, I’ll go back to what I’ve been saying for months. Sheheen didn’t do anything to drive the Democrats to go to the polls, especially the black voters. All he did was try and take away some of the Republicans from Haley.

    If he loses by 7-10 points it’s his own fault. An inspiring Democrat with a campaign based on ideas instead of slamming his opponent could have made it a horse race.

  4. Kathryn Braun Fenner (Mrs. Stephen A.)

    The Maxcy Gregg Senior Center was jammed at 11 AM.

    But never tell someone to calm down. totally counterproductive.

  5. Barry

    @ Doug

    He couldn’t have done anything to “drive the voters” to the polls unless he practiced FEAR politics- and Senator Sheheen wasn’t going to engage in that type of politics.

    In South Carolina if you are a Democrat (even a Conservative one) you have to either run a fear based campaign or you have to have one overriding pet issue that stirs folks up in an almost superficial way.

  6. Sally T.

    I waited over an hour at Lugoff 1 this morning. I got there around 10, thinking that I would have avoided the morning rush. This obviously was not the case. The poll manager said that it was the busiest he had ever seen to that point including 2008. I signed in as #153, but I know there were at least 40 people behind me in line when I left at 11:20.

  7. Paul

    I have heard that African American turnout is quite high. They have a tendency to vote more in the late afternoon

  8. Debbie McDaniel

    Voted in Rosewood (very good liberal area!) at the Boys & Girls Club around 10am.
    Only 4 machines and a wait of about 15-20 minutes. Heard them say about150 folks had voted before me.

  9. Brad

    Note the low-res Blackberry photo I just put at the top of this post. For sake of comparison, this is what that same room looked like on the day of the primaries this year.

    But what I saw today was NOTHING compared to the crowd on Election Day 2008. Check out these pictures I took of the line outside that day. Today, no more than 15 people were lined up OUTSIDE the building when I arrived, even though the building itself was crowded, and when I left that exterior queue was practically gone.

  10. Karen McLeod

    I voted in Olympia this AM. Not a whole lot of people, but except for 2 years ago it had tended to be dead.

  11. Nick Nielsen

    Walked, voted, and walked out at Batesburg. But I got there at about 4:45. Two other voters there.

  12. Kathy

    Sheheen has a lot of excellent ideas for reforming SC government. Unfortunately for our state, everything can’t be reduced to a sound bite or bumper sticker—or talking points that can be ticked off on one’s knobby fingers. But here’s to hoping our next governor will be welcomed with the same treatment Bill Clinton received while he was president. Wow, that’s the first time I’ve smiled in hours.

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