I’m glad I voted yesterday. Can we count the votes now?

I went with the bandanna rather than a surgical mask, in order to cover my beard. I'm going to mount that cotton swap on a plaque or something...

I went with the bandanna rather than a surgical mask, in order to cover my beard. I’m going to mount that cotton swab on a plaque or something…

I mean, come on, people — if you haven’t voted, that’s just too bad! I can’t wait now…

But seriously, folks… As I mentioned in comments on a previous post yesterday, I cast aside my firm preference for voting on actual Election Day — and I still prefer it — for a number of reasons:

  • I kept hearing things that made me worry that instead of taking the pressure off Election Day, the waves of people voting early (62 million as of the time I was standing in line waiting to vote) be a harbinger of a complete mess on that day. I stood in long, long lines in 2008. Those same lines would be much, much longer with social distancing, and I didn’t fancy standing in the heat or rain or whatever (it rained during the hour and forty minutes I was in line in 2008) with a mask on my face that long.
  • I didn’t feel great when I went to bed the night before. Probably just weariness from staying up half the night before, for the convenience of the West Coast, watching the World Series. But I thought, “What if this is COVID? What if I get sick and can’t vote?” I couldn’t take that chance.
  • When I found out about this satellite location — and found out about it in a way that made me hope not many people would know about it — I decided to run out and do it, suddenly and without warning.

And it worked. I got it done in less than an hour. I congratulated myself on a brilliantly successful coup de main operation. Trump and Lindsey never saw it coming. Not from me, anyway. Just BANG, and I had voted.

By the way, I voted as I reported I would — for Joe, Jaime, Adair and Nikki Setzler. Which should have taken only seconds, but I assure you I was more obsessive than usual about double- and triple-checking every vote at every stage — on the screen, and on the paper printout. I made sure there was zero chance of an error on my part.

Now, about the fact that the availability of this convenient polling place (about half the distance, for me, compared to the election office in Lexington) was kept such a secret…

That morning, thinking about getting out and voting, I had tried to find out what my options were. But when I had Googled “where to vote early near me” and entered my address, I was told that I had to go to Lexington. Other options weren’t offered. (Also, I could have sworn there was no info on the county election office website when I looked before, although it’s there now.)

I found out about it completely inadvertently. A friend sent me a flyer that she had gotten from a Facebook post that someone else had sent her. It was not from the Lexington Election office. It was from the page of the West Columbia Community Center, the place where I ended up voting. I went looking for that post later and couldn’t find it, but I did find a link to a WIS story about these places being opened. If The State, my main local source of news, posted it at any time, I missed it. (A search of thestate.com shows that the last time the full phrase “West Columbia Community Center” appeared in The State was 2015 — but that’s a notoriously bad search engine, so I don’t know.)

So, I can’t really say the county officials hid the information from the public. I’m just not terribly impressed by how well they got the information out. I think maybe it spread by word of mouth during the day yesterday. I voted pretty quickly, but the line grew substantially while I was there, and Bud says he saw something about it on WIS (thank you, WIS, for making the effort to help us know about this) that said people were waiting as long as 90 minutes. Although I don’t know when that was.

Then there’s the fact that the place where I voted — the only place anywhere near me — was only open yesterday, today and tomorrow. And only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., rather than full voting hours like on Election Day.

Look, I’m grateful for the opportunity I had yesterday. I want to thank the folks who manned this temporary site — including one of the folks I’m used to seeing at my own precinct on Election Days. I appreciate WIS trying to get the word out. Mostly, I appreciate the chain of people passing around the information that eventually got to me.

But you know, the folks in charge of elections in my county could have gotten the word out better. And they could have had these locations open the whole time, rather than these small snatches of time.

If they had, it would have helped more to keep the madness down on Election Day. I still worry there will be problems (although probably fewer in this county than in Richland — at least ours is an actual county office, rather than one of those notorious Special Purpose Districts).

But I’m glad I got the opportunity, and I’m glad I’m done…


It was pretty exciting when I actually got INSIDE the building, and could see the little voting booths…

23 thoughts on “I’m glad I voted yesterday. Can we count the votes now?

  1. Bryan Caskey

    I went to vote at the satellite location on Gervais Street. Total time, door-to-door was 45 minutes. I took our six-year old daughter with me.

    We spent the time in line deciding which Disney princess had it “the hardest”. Strong contenders were Mulan and Cinderella.

    She also said that she would like to be a candidate, so people could vote for her. Her title would be “Kitty President” and her main plan was Taco Tuesdays and Spaghetti Supper Sundays.

    I may have written her in on my ballot.

    1. Norm Ivey

      Umm. Snow White. Her mom tried to kill her, she had to cook for and clean up after 7 messy guys, and still ended up in a deep sleep for years until kissed by a necrophiliac stranger.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Well, it wasn’t really her MOM. It was her stepmother. And as Disney taught us as children, they’re always “wicked.”

        Kind of a way of warping children’s perception, when you think about it. How many widowed fathers tried to get remarried and thereby completely traumatized their children, thanks to Disney?

        1. Norm Ivey

          I used to do a folk tale unit when I taught ELA. We would examine how tales changed depending on their culture, including American culture as defined by Disney. In the old world tales, the wicked stepmother dies at the hands of the royal court. They strap blazing hot iron boots to her feet and she dances herself to death–she’s punished. In Disney’s version, she slips and falls–karma takes care of the ugly part for us.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s a word question. I hate it when I don’t know a word, and I can never tell how to refer to these things.

    In the cutline on that second picture above, I said, “It was pretty exciting when I actually got INSIDE the building, and could see the little voting booths…”

    Booths? Are those “booths?”

    I mean the little tabletop area of semi-privacy — I suppose in Griswold terms, it creates a “penumbra” of privacy — that houses the voting machine.

    I don’t think so. Back when I lived and voted in Tennessee, we had BOOTHS — the real thing. I loved them. These things were around 8-10 feet tall, and surrounded by a heavy, thick curtain. You would enter, and pull this huge lever — two or three feet long — that was like the things you see in movies when the railroad guy would switch the tracks to change a train’s course. It took some force, but as you switched it, the curtains would close.

    Then one wall of the booth was covered with the things you were voting on. You’d choose your candidate by toggling switches for the ones you wanted. Obsessive as always, I’d switch one and stare at it to see how I felt about it, then switch it off and switch the opponent’s, and see how that looked, before finally making my decision.

    And usually, there would be a BUNCH of decisions like that.

    Then, when I was done — and a pollworker had said, “Sir, are you all right in there?” (yeah, this really happened) — I would pull the big lever back, and that would both open the curtain, and cause all my choices to register and become official. And it made a nice, satisfying ka-CHUNG kind of noise.

    Of course, I BELIEVED my vote was being registered and becoming official. I had no way to confirm it. But it was a satisfying process.

    Back to “booth.” Those little things aren’t “booths.” Nor are they “kiosks.” Nor are they “cubbyholes,” or, I dunno, I’m out of words.

    Anybody have any idea what they’re called?

    1. Norm Ivey

      Voting machines?

      I think this may be one of those deals where the old word for something transfers to the new technology. For example, calling those things we carry around in our pockets “phones”. They bear little resemblance to what we called telephones when we were kids. Or how the Save icon in many programs is still an image of a 3.5 floppy.

      My earliest voting experience was 1980. I reported to the Caw Caw volunteer fire station in Calhoun County (but only after I had proven I could read a section of the SC Constitution in order to get registered). There was a privacy booth–more of a carrel, really. Some guy walked down the line handing everyone a paper ballot. Most of us didn’t wait for the booth. I marked my first ballot on the fender of a small fire truck.

      1. Norm Ivey

        think this may be one of those deals where the old word for something transfers to the new technology.

        Meaning, I think the correct term may still be “booth”.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        You seem to imply that floppy disks are a thing of the past. I’ll have you know that I have a floppy disk drive.

        I bought it recently because I thought, “I have shoeboxes full of floppy disks. That may be the only place where this stuff, that I thought was worth saving at some point, still exists. I must have a drive in order to have access to them!”

        So I got the drive, and was really excited to take a look at what was on those disks…

        And then I realized I didn’t really need that stuff.

        So… I guess I take your point…

  3. Sally Huguley

    Yep, I voted today at the Masonic Lodge at Millwood and Gervais. I was going to vote on Election Day as usual, but I’m so anxious about the election this year, I just had to relieve the stress and vote. Plus, I wanted to vote on an actual machine. Trump is really stirring the pot about voting paper/mail-in ballots, so you know he’s going to create as much fog of war as possible on Nov. 3. He’s saying today that the presidential election outcome must be proclaimed on the night of Nov. 3. With some hope and prayers, maybe it will be an landslide victory for Biden, leaving no doubt about the outcome.

  4. Norm Ivey

    I just heard that over a million folks in SC have voted already. With about 3M registered, that means one third of all voters have voted. In 2016, there were about 2M votes total.

    Half of all voters in SC have voted already? Can that be right?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Funny no matter what you think of Kavanaugh, or which side of the Great Court Wars you are on.

          I never had a strong opinion about this guy, or about Gorsuch (let me know if you find anything on the blog about either). I DID have, and still have, a very strong opinion about what McConnell did on Garland, and the way he so wildly threw away his own precedent with Barrett…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            The Great Court Wars sounds like something from old England. As in, “In an older era, even before before the War of the Roses between the Lancasters and Yorks, there was a lesser known struggle for power between the two great houses of McConnell and Schumer in…the Great Court Wars.”

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              You know, I’ve been thinking I should say something re Judge Amy getting confirmed and sworn in, but dang, I don’t want to start another brawl like we had earlier on the subject.

              I probably SHOULD say something, since based on what I’m reading, I’m about the only person in the country who thinks it is neither the worst thing to happen in the history of the world, nor the best. So I should probably set my views down in writing, as a sort of historical oddity.

              But I haven’t yet. My goal all along was to not have this process upset the applecart with regard to the election, and I don’t think it has, on the presidential level. Why rock the boat — I mean applecart, or whatever metaphor you prefer — now?

              Although it probably helped Lindsey Graham here in SC — it gave him a free national stage on which to play a character different from Trump’s golf toady, and here at home, that had to help.

              So it could end up with Jaime Harrison losing after this brilliant run. It was always going to be tough, but this opportunity dropping in Graham’s lap made it tougher.

              I certainly hope not, but I do worry about it…

  5. bud

    Anyone who is not worried about voter suppression is not paying attention. Trump is trying to deny voters their right to vote in PA if their ballot arrives after Nov 3, even if postmarked earlier. Given the efforts by Trump to ruin the postal service this is a big deal. Voter suppression is far and away the biggest threat to our voting process. (Given the electoral college I refuse to call our system a democracy)

  6. Scout

    Hey I voted there on Tuesday too. Sorry I haven’t checked the blog since then. I got there at 4:45 and it took about an hour and 10 minutes. I went to the Lexington county election commision site to find out about early voting places. But I have a fairly active facebook neighborhood group and they all seemed quite aware of this voting place and were checking in to see what the line was like all day. My husband voted there Wednesday. It seems that they pretty much maintained hour long lines at that location through the three days no matter what time of day. I am fascinated by the early turnout.

    The guy I was next to in line said when we started, too bad there isn’t a sign like at six flags to tell you that at this point your wait is X number of minutes. But then when we got to the building, I said, good thing we aren’t at six flags or there would probably be another labyrinth of line to wind through in there. But there wasn’t – you went almost directly into the room.

    They had more voting machines available then they could use at any given time because the bottle neck was with the ladies printing your ballot application. Too bad they didn’t have more computer/printer stations. The lady manning my station seemed really tired. She was not cheery. I tried to thank them all.


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