So I voted yesterday. The way I remember voting is climbing the stairs to the large meeting room in the West Dundee City Hall, greeting our old neighbor Mrs. Arnoni and showing her my id, getting the long sheet of manila, sliding it in the heavy plastic cartridge, and poking out my choices with the stylus. I clearly remember the tactile satisfaction of punching holes . And, if that all wasn’t treat enough, I’d get a sticker afterwards to put on my coat.
Yesterday I went to the early voting site, a large public library, which already had not one, but two long lines of people waiting to vote. I didn’t recognize anyone. I took my chances on the line to the left. A cranky volunteer shoved a blue sheet of paper on the state constitutional convention into my hand. A how-to-vote video played in a droning loop at the front of the line. Most people, even those who appeared to have come together, stood silently with grave expressions on their faces. For a moment the tension seemed to relax as two women behind me began to chat about early voting. But then I heard one snap at the other, “I don’t talk about how I’m going to vote, I just don’t” and they fell back into silence.
The line moved slowly, it occurred to me to wonder if the polling volunteers had been recruited from our local DMV, and then it was my turn to vote. Whoever designed the new machines was probably enamored of their iPod at the time. Its main mode of operation is a big fat click wheel. You use the wheel to go back and forth, up and down. To select you just click the Enter button nestled against the right side of the wheel. Spin and click, spin and click. I have to admit, as far as tactile satisfaction goes, the click wheel wasn’t bad. Still, at the end of a contentious election season I would have preferred a long, metal stick and a ballot to rip holes in.
A little flag graphic flashed to show me that they were done with me and I wandered out of the booth wondering if I ought to say good bye or thank anyone. It wasn't until I got half way down the stairs that I realized I hadn’t gotten a sticker for my jacket.