Sylvia and I stopped by Randalls in Westlake yesterday for early voting. Upon presenting my voter registration card to the lady who checks ID, she reprimanded me for having trimmed it to a size that fits into my wallet.
The voter registration cards in Texas are the size of a standard postcard. This makes it inconvenient to carry in a wallet. So I trim the excess off the top and bottom with scissors, making the card the same height as a drivers license. Then, when folded in half sideways, it fits perfectly in my wallet, with the relevant info intact.
Anyway, the election worker proceeded to inform me NOT to trim the card next time because I chopped off the bar code that the scanner reads and now she has to enter the info manually into her laptop instead of just scanning it. I told her I’d never been told that. She then proceeded to tell me that if it takes an extra minute to enter my info, I’m holding up the line and causing other people to wait longer than they should have to. I said “oh, would you like to scan my drivers license instead?” She said “no, I already have you up here” (on the laptop screen).
This was all spoken in earshot of at least the first 3 or 4 people in line behind me. I considered saying “hey, Old Lady, shut up and just do your freaking job”, but I instead apologized for having trimmed my card and causing her the extra effort of typing my name into her screen.
Is it the polling worker’s job or duty to issue such reprimands and lectures to voters? No, it’s not.
Today between placing a lockbox on a property and picking my daughter up from school, I had about 75 minutes to kill and no productive way to use that time, until I realized I was driving past the Randalls at Brodie and Slaughter Ln. in Southwest Austin. This, I had heard, is the early voting location for my precinct, and I needed more oatmeal, so I pulled in to Randalls.
Overall, this was a good, cheerful day for me. Standing in the voter line threw a wet blanket on it though. 30 minutes of sharing space with grim faced, unsociable people was a real downer. This line would not be mistaken for a festive line of people waiting to be let in to a ZZ-Top concert, or the gleeful bunch of iPhone “early adopters” you may have seen on the news last summer.
Nope, these are arms folded, blank stare, don’t-talk-to-me-I’m-brooding, line standers. I guess pleasant, cordial chit chat is off the table when engaged in the solemness of one’s civic duty. Had I been blindfolded and led to this line, I might have guessed I was standing amongst people waiting to pick caskets for their dead puppies. I considered making eye contact with someone, maybe throwing one of those wry “what’s up?” smiles toward someone, but I dared not, as the pall of depressed hanging faces thus deterred me.
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