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Voting 2007

Well, I voted.

I have to say it was a different experience this year, giving me some pause for thought.

First I had to make my way past the candidates at the front door. What's with that? In previous years I don't remember that last minute pressure...Are they staring me down, willing me to vote for them? Do they know who I am? Do they dislike my party affiliation? On the way out... will they know I didn't vote for them? Do I make eye contact, smile, dash for my car in the rain? Too much pressure (and prehaps a little too much paranoia).

After passing the dvd player in the hall informing voters how to use the new machines (new machines? Is Killingworth going the way of Florida?), I made my way inside the school cafeteria, only to notice my usual routine for check in was not to be. The check in tables were all switched around. (I thought this was way too much change, requiring too much thinking for 6:30 in the morning.) Scanning the tables, I found O-Z (for my road) and the familiar face of Florence Broach smiling and saying good morning. In spite of knowing who I am, out came the license and and I stated my "full" name when she asked for it. Hmmmmm...would that be my name with my real middle name or my name with my maiden name (and by the way, where does that mean my middle name went?) or maybe even my name with my middle and maiden name? I got through that with going with the maiden name as the "new" middle name. I was then handed the red folder with the ballot....what? a paper ballot? I have to write? Where are the familiar, ancient grey machines? "Gone!" was the answer.

I took my ballot to the four-person station with the partions to keep my neighbor from smirking at my choices and began to fill in the bubbles. Oh, God.....the dreaded bubbles. Now I know how my kids feel with their standardidized tests. More paranoia ensues..."What if I go over the lines or don't completely fill in the bubble? Can I use an X?" Well, at least I didn't have to go through the second-guessing procedure that plagued me on every multiple choice test I ever took in school..."Should the answer be C? The last two answers were C, so there can't be three Cs in a row...but maybe there is another C.... just to fool me." (You can imagine how I did on my SATs and, no, don't ask.)

What did cross my mind as I made my decisions was, "What if I wanted to change my vote?" I certainly couldn't do that with the special, black, felt-tip marker that was provided to fill in those bubbles. And, as I glanced at the ballot, I wonder why there was so much white space. Where were the names? Usually there were many more people involved. What had happened to the desire to serve in this community? There were far too many categories where I was required to "choose any two" (or three) and where only two (or three) people were running. Well, that's sort of a done deal, isn't it? Granted...many of the names on the ballot have been there for years, and I mean years. Don't take that the wrong way....these are wonderful people who have served this town long and well. I voted for them again but still wondered where were the others who had moved here and loved this town? Is the feeling of volunteerism and giving back diminishing?

I walked over to our new, 21st century optical scan machine, inserted my ballot and it was immediately spat out. Oh, God....more pressure- "Were my hands were too wet as I voted?"; "Perhaps the machine doesn't like my answers"; or "I must have done something wrong." As I tried again (and was successful in getting the machine to swallow my results), I realized I missed the old, familiar click of the metal levers as I chose my candidates; I missed "unclicking" my vote if I decided to give someone else an opportunity; I missed the clash of the main lever as I hauled it over to one side to cement my decisions. You really had to put some effort into getting that lever over and that effort always made me feel as though my vote stood for something, was important, and made a difference.

As it turned out, my vote did stand for something (even though it was not cast with my usual clanging determination.)

In this small community, on November 6, 2007, the Selectman's office was determined by only 27 votes. More important, the incumbent received only 18% of the vote - a result of the town's overwhelming message that it wanted a non-arrogant individual who could be respectful of other town officers (in spite of their party affiliation), and who would work with others as a member of a cohesive group to support the best wishes of the majority and the town.

Yes, a lot of pause for thought. And perhaps the most powerful?.....thinking about and giving thanks to that small group of Pilgrims and their Mayflower Compact (the basis for our "majority rules" system and the foundation of our Constitution) which allows us to participate in this thoughtful process every few years. It's a great system.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 7, 2007 6:30 AM.

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