Stepping to the polls

Miriam BaierThe election campaign season is in full swing with less than a week to go until decisions are made.

While the official election date is Nov. 4, plenty have already voted absentee.

That just does not seem right to me. I understand there are legitimate reasons for an absentee ballot, but I have trouble convincing myself that convenience — mine or election officials — should be one of the reasons.

Although I dread visiting my precinct Tuesday because I fear it will be rife with confusion and general disorganization, and this year with many more voters, I have not let myself apply for an absentee ballot. I feel it is my cross to bear for the privilege of voting.

But in our world of instant gratification, the idea of waiting in line for maybe an hour not only is daunting to say the least, but impractical as well with jobs and other responsibilities. The fact that there are plenty in the world who gladly queue up (or would if they could) for way more than a hour to vote is beside the point, I suppose.

I also yearn for the punch ballots of old. I don’t like coloring in the circles. This does not seem to me to be an improvement. It seems like a step way back in time. I also don’t like the new “casualness” of voting. We could sit at tables to vote in my previous precinct location. I never did, but the new ballots lend themselves to sitting down like you are having a cup of coffee with your best bud. I feel the process deserves more respect, but I realize using the tables allowed people to vote more quickly.

But I know much thought, not to mention dollars, has gone into the new procedures and plenty of people work very hard to see that everything is copacetic. I am appreciative of all the efforts. I also know precinct workers, whose pay is small for the long hours they put in, are hard to come by these days and they are valuable to the election process. But I also know that too many cooks ruin the stew, and there are a lot of cooks in the county’s precincts.

Unfortunately, “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality prevails many times as the precincts are set up and worked, and that can lead to unnecessary glitches.

As a very large voter turnout is predicted Tuesday, I urge those who are the oil in the cogs of the election process to put aside any personal feelings about their assignments and instead consider the ease and convenience of the voters. That is an issue we all can support.

Miriam Baier is the assistant managing editor of the Examiner, and can be reached at 592-3060, ext. 124 or via e-mail at