Early voting in San Diego county, my experience

From: Ed Kennedy <ekennedyx_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Sat Oct 30 2004 - 22:17:09 CDT

Hello All:

    I was able vote early in San Diego County today. Actually what it was was getting to vote absentee at the Registrar of Voters. Big crowd but well organized with not a long wait. After 5 inches of rain in the last two weeks, it was our usual chamber of commerce weather, clear blue skies and temperature in the 70's (F). In California (as in probably all states) the Counties mail all registered voters a Sample Ballot voter information pamphlet (104 pages) and the State mails you one or more information pamphlets for State wide initiatives. You can mark up the sample ballot and take it into the polls with you. On the back, the County sample ballot shows your polling place next to your mailing address. This is also how you can apply for permanent absentee ballot status. I successfully got permanent absentee status but my ballot apparently never arrived. As I'm going to be a poll worker on Tuesday I decided to take advantage of the early voting rather than vote provisionally.

    They had a big tent set up outside the registrar's office. At the entrance to the tent you gave them the back page of your sample ballot booklet which had been set up for this. There was a form on the back for you to fill in the necessary information and it already had your mailing address for them to check you through the process. Registrar staff took the form into the office and then directed you into the tent where you sat and waited on folding chairs. There was an announcer at the other side of the tent that was receiving cleared ballots that were brought out to him by runners from the office. He was nearly constantly calling out names and the whole thing went pretty fast.

    I had to fill out an affidavit that I wouldn't try to vote another absentee ballot if it showed up and was then sent with my ballot and absentee envelope into the polling place. The voting stations were made out of corrugated paper. They had both standing and sitting voting stations. Being a macho man and I decided to stand. I immediately noticed that the lighting was awful. We're using optical scan ballots this time where you fill in flattened oval with an ink pen. the ballot was about 8.5"x14" and on heavy card stock. I noticed that there were a row of short lines on each side about every 3/8". I assume these are for orienting the scanner. While I could read the ballot font, it was an effort. I found filling out the ovals to be demanding as I wanted to fill it in completely but not go substantially beyond the edges. As the oval was quite small (1/8-3/16"?) it was a little difficult. Hopefully these scanners have a little tolerance built in. There were three columns on each side of the ballot. After working for a while I realized that doing this standing up was uncomfortable for me every with this lectern height cardboard desk. I had to bend down closely over the ballot to read it and mark it. When I was done, it was a relief to stand up. I asked the poll worker if I could run my ballot through a scanner to see if it registered the way I marked it. After being referred to another person, I learned that there weren't any scanners set up. After a while I realized that as I was actually voting absentee that they wasn't unreasonable. I put it in an envelope and sealed it, dated it, gave my street address and signed it.. I gave the ballot to a poll worker who put it into an absentee ballot box in front of me. I left feeling virtuous that I had voted and relieved that I could stand up straight again. I came in with my pre-marked sample ballot and it took me at least 10 minutes to mark the ballot. There were 14 offices being contested and 25 measures submitted to the voters (which isn't unusual for California).

    Oh yes, in the parking lot there was also a station where county employees were accepting absentee ballots. I think I'm going to bring a magnifying glass to the polling place where I'm working.

Thanks, Ed Kennedy
10777 Bendigo Cove
San Diego, CA 92126-2510
As you think, so you become. 
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Received on Mon Nov 1 15:28:56 2004

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