Thursday, November 8, 2012

Row, Row, Row Your Vote....

Now that it's Thursday I finally feel comfortable enough to tell all of you about my crazy experience on Tuesday, election day. Like many of my fellow Americans, I woke up intending to vote. But somehow things did not go as I had planned.

When I came into the kitchen that morning, Genessa was sipping coffee. "It's ridiculous that they didn't send us a notice about where to vote, now that Harbor View Elementary has been torn down," she noted. "But I found out where we go--Stiles Point Elementary, right up the street."

"Sweet. Thanks for telling me," I said. I got dressed and drove to Stiles Point, which was an absolute swarm of people, cars, voting representatives and mayhem in general. To make a long story short, I waited in that line, which wrapped up and down the Stiles Point hallway, for two solid hours. Granted, I had a really cool chick standing beside me, so we talked about everything from curly hair products (hers was a mass of spirals too) to the quest for true love (she was married so it was mostly about my own quest). Still, by the time I got to the front of the line, produced my drivers license and got ready to cast my vote, the news that I "was in the wrong place," was as frustrating as if I'd spent the prior two hours standing next to a smelly, yodeling, half man-half anteater.

"What do you mean the wrong place?!" I demanded.

"You are supposed to be at the OLD Stiles Point next door, not this new building," the nonplussed representative told me. "Sorry."

"I am NOT waiting another two hours--I don't have time," I announced, loudly enough for everyone around me to look at me. "I'm not voting, I guess. Unless you guys can make arrangements so I don't have to wait!"

They just blinked at me.

"FINE. I'm moving to Canada," I declared. I knew I was making a small scene but I didn't give a crap, frankly.

I plowed out of the building, ignoring the offers for Chick Fil A coupons and stickers. "I didn't vote!" I snapped at the goodie-peddlers. "So I don't GET ONE!"

I did make the half-hearted attempt to go to the "old" Stiles Point building across the parking lot, only to be greeted by a rude attendant who told me to "get to the back of the line" after I relayed my sob story.

"No way," I said, seeing how long the line was. "I'm out of here." And I was.

Safely in my car and headed to work, I realized that my voter registration card still had my old Mount Pleasant address on it. Inspired, I called the City of Mount Pleasant and asked whether I could vote in Mount P, given the fact that my card reflected that information.

"Hmm.." said the befuddled clerk after I ranted about how rude everyone on James Island had been. "Let me give you the director. He can help you. After what you've been through, there must be something we can do."

But the director was not willing to help. "Sorry," he said. "You cannot vote in Mount Pleasant. You have to go back to James Island. That's where you are living now. You should have gotten your notice about the switching of locations. What's your address?"

After I told him, he realized the problem. "We have you down for Apartment THREE, not B," he announced.

"Oh, perfect," I said. "No freaking wonder ...But I'm not going back home to James Island until 10 p.m. tonight because I teach on Tuesdays. Isn't there anything else I can do?"

"I can offer you opportunity to return to Stiles Point and cast your vote."

"OFFER ME THE OPPORTUNITY!?" I shouted. "Don't say that like you're doing something special for me...I could have done that anyway!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am," he replied. "It's the way the law works."

"Yeah, well, God bless America. Have a great day." I slammed the phone down.

So that was that. No vote for Denise K. James. I did, however, get an "I Voted" sticker gifted to me by Brian, my coeditor. When he told me he still hadn't voted at 2 p.m., I told him I was going with him and having a positive voting experience somehow, even if it wasn't my own.

And that's exactly what happened. We sailed into the designated Mount Pleasant building without any lines, he voted in the span of minutes, and handed me the sticker. Of course, it wasn't quite the same, but it was something.

"Now that the sticker is yours it should actually say, I tried to vote but couldn't," Brian joked.

I don't think I laughed. I was still too mad. But looking back on it now, it was a pretty amusing non-voting experience.

Hope everyone else's was better... regardless of your political party.

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