An unanticipated adventure that unknowingly started over a month ago…

The last time I voted, I went downtown, partly because I was under the weather and concerned I wouldn’t be well on election day, and partly because I had moved since the previous election and didn’t know my new precinct/neighborhood polling place.

Even though I’ve had some minor stuff here and there going on, I haven’t had any major (knock wood) illnesses this fall that just kept spiralling downward, beyond several days. This is a major contrast to the last five years, and especially to a year ago. (This has marginally helped on the front of catching up with some minor things from the late summer surprises, but today, today, is probably the first day I wasn’t simply trying to convince myself that I felt well, but that I actually woke up with my body speaking first.)

Note: I’m filling in this post belatedly, after actually running all around town two days in a row on my own (sans my first taste of Mishawakian–rather than Columbussian–Chipotle), as enjoyable and invigorating as it was at the time, had the effect of leaving me physically drained, if mentally invigorated. It is now Monday, November 13, 2006. I put the pics up as a skeleton early to compel myself to revisit the day. I don’t know if things happen too fast or if I just tend to notice too much, but when my mind gets going… well, I’ll leave the tangent here so I can finish this post!)

Okay, so I started early

the early bird catches the worm

Mission: Make sure, for sure, I’m still registered to vote, and see if I can find out my polling venue, without having to call or make a trip to the County-City Building.

The Web continues to distribute useful and timely information. I found it.

Mission apparently accomplished.
Then, on the eve of the election, I checked again, just to be super sure it hadn’t changed on me. I found the same results, but I noticed the dotcom for the websites, so I was starting to doubt the official governmental authority of them, but I saw the Sec of State in there, and other (even outdated) gov websites were pointing back to these. Oh–and I finally found what I had been looking for earlier:
Project Vote Smart

(I was more than a bit disappointed by candidates not filling out the survey, but I slacked in looking up the information, so it was too late to do anything about it. I know for next time. Intriguing project, so I hope it continues.)

So I felt okay about at least trying to vote at my new polling location.

I definitely do try to keep a space open, optimistically, for interactions to flow smoothly. It’s a taken-for-granted habit by now. Basic social psychology that pretty much applies for everyone, but becomes even more manifest for individuals possessing traits that elicit sets of assumptions that oftentimes do not correspond to nonobvious propensities.

Sociology’s so pervasively social. That’s what I love most about it!

(Specifically for me, I’ve got the deafness thing going–but my speech is decent enough to discount me verbally making others aware I’m deaf, and then coupling with the deafness the way my facial nerves have been compromised, it’s easy for me to understand how others might think I don’t know what’s going on: If they (primarily people I’m encountering for the first time, for a limitied transaction) don’t speak directly to me or jot down the simple direction they’re obviously saying/question they’re asking, then I really don’t know what’s going on. Understandably!

So I had my pocket notepad ready, and not wanting to waste anyone’s time with asking for futile verbal repeats from a mumbling low-talker, I simply said, “I am deaf, so would you please jot that down so I know what you’re saying. Thank you, I appreciate it.”<br>

pause. inactivity. hesitation. (I try to defuse the situation a bit with humor, realizing that one of the local candidates has the same last name as me, and I’d just passed the large billboard with his ad on it: “of no relation that I’m aware.” (Me to myself: shoot, they are not laughing and they have blank, “I don’t know what to do,” looks of their faces,” it’s like I’ve wandered into the midst of a cult or something, and they are supremely suspicious of my origins.) More talk between poll workers. BIG ISSUE, apparently. (I guess it’s way more complicated to write something than to say it, and to clear up things via effective communication would deprive the now-growing line of voters from the obvious entertainment of watching me engage in civic life.)

Another poll worker decides she must intervene. She talks. Softly and rapidly, with lack of confidence and direction. (By this time, I have processed the fact that the website was wrong, that even though one can report an address change to seven government agencies, the USPS, and register to vote at the License Bureau and change one’s address at the same place, it does not preclude someone from moving to a different state rep./township/precinct location, and still voting based on a former precinct’s ballot two years later. So I figure I need to cast my ballot within my current precinct, right?) I’m ready for them to point me where to vote, and sign to certify that I am only submitting one ballot, at my current legal residence’s precinct location.
Okay, so the helper says a stream of words. I catch the word, “inspector.” And she’s pointing. I’m thinking to myself, “oh great, I get to see the inspector! This is a new, weird, wild, exciting adventure I’ll have to blog about!” I’m expecting a trench coat, The Pink Panther theme is in my head. Mustaches. And then there’s also “Inspector Gadget.” It’s all quite festive, and I’m feeling special, yet a bit put-off about having wasted my time looking up my polling location, and now not really knowing if I’d get an opportunity to vote or if my ballot would be one of those provisional ones. And, well, it just bothers me when simple things become way more complicated than they should be, especially when preparatory/preventative steps were enlisted.

The inspector/judge was congenial. He only took a couple moments before he wrote what was going on. The other dude in the (inquisitory) room called downtown. They had me still listed at my previous polling place. I was told I had to go there to vote. I didn’t question the big guys, but I probably should have. I wear down too fast. I don’t blame them. The problem was an administrative one, at a much higher level. I can’t believe we are wasting all this money on public services that aren’t fulfilling their purpose, though, when the existing structures could support a lot of this. (Common sense, isn’t it? I know they know where I live.)

The outcome: Denied! By this time, I’m a bit taken aback. I decide I will not be disenfranchised. (Still, I msg. someone to let them know I’m on my way to my old stomping grounds, and that, “I was practially disenfranchised!”) I also take my camera out of its case, because now I simply have to document more of the day. It’s a moral imperative.

My first polling location (convenient to access from current residence, but not as welcoming as I expected), I took the picture as I was leaving. I do like the aging of the bricks-and-mortar. This building has been around all my life, and I passed it many times, along with the next, en route to visit relatives in South Bend:

The next picture would not have been taken, had it not been for the preceding and following series of events. In the end, I didn’t even get to vote for Randy. And I think that’s sad. (Personally, I would choose a different color combo for these billboards. I did see some smaller campaign signs with my preferred color cominations, for a different office/candidate, and I don’t understand why it isn’t more common. Probably like most things, it will take five+ years to catch on.) Still, it’s fun seeing my surname in a prominent location. Hundreds of people passed it daily… (I’m also proud of myself for snapping this picture. There’s a reason why it is a bit blurry, but let’s not go there.)

Found a perfect parking spot at my old polling station. I should have known the press would be contacted about my ordeal, and waiting to interview me:

(lightweights in this instance? Nah–they saved a spot for me.)

For the benefit of friends in Australia, Fox was there in full force:

This is a West Side institution. Love it or not, tons and tons of history lingers in the vicinity. There’s a spirit in the air. (I was a bit close to also document the ramp that had been added for voters-on-wheels to enter, without missing the great signs.)

If you take democratic as meaning what it means, and not being contorted, then these are some of the most beautiful signs in the world. (I did not notice the Indiana Voter’s Bill of Rights at the other place… or any acknowledgement of Dyngus Day!) I was, and I don’t use the word very often, giddy while I was taking this picture.

Given, I had finally voted. The poll workers here were immediately responsive to my needs. The press treated me like I was Bono. I was even given the paper to file so I could vote closer to my current residence. (An hour later, I would realize how much I regretted actually filling out and filing that paper because of how well I was treated (this is basic respect here, not anything profound or condescendingly sweet), how empowered I felt, finally, to cast my vote.)

Still, my msg. right after I voted, despite not having used an electronic voting machine was: “I think I voted.”

(Previously documented: the named tune of the day off of the radio was, “Hard to Handle.” ‘It’s got a good beat; easy to (name in five notes…)’ Yesterday’s was something by, I think, Iron Maiden — the one that is so distinctive rhythmically, that I also recognized it in an Austin sandwich shop-that-had-a-great-name-that-made-me-save-the-receipt, and makes me think of Beavis and Butt-head, and laugh-like-I-can-only-laugh-when-alone. And all that before my ABI was — compared to now — picking up much music, in the midst of a plethora of surrounding noises.)

(The tunes of this day in my head were many more. Days are always better with music, in whatever form.)

In sum, the day was so much funnier when it unfolded. It’s the fast, unpredictable sequence of events that I only captured in verbal accounts to friends. Oh–that was the thing! I was so tempted to move the aluminum folding chair before taking the last picture. But I thought I might forfeit the opportunity to take the picture at all… the entrance was immediately adjacent to the voting area.  I did not take my camera in to vote because I assume they are prohibited in the area (and I’m not as gutsy as many photographers).  So after the high of voting, and the grand colors and welcoming signs, the way everything had come together, really, I knew I had to take a picture.  So I just pulled the front door open, snapped the picture, flash went off, and I was out of there.  Fast, man!  And then the surprise of it turning out so grandly.  The chair being a symbol of welcome all it’s own, reminiscent of many Polish-style banquets and receptions; the constellation of life events that bind us together.

We’ll see how things go from here.