I vote for a return of ‘how things used to be’

miriam baier

Reflection seems to come naturally this time of the year when one has seen as many new years as I.   I did not drag my heels into the 21st Century by any means, but I am far from totally convinced that all “advancements” have been “improvements.”

I’m certainly glad we don’t have to use outhouses, though, and I like fast cars and malls and drive-through coffee. I’ve done my fair share of on-line shopping in my pajamas very willingly. I can send photos on my cell phone with a text message and often do. (I also sometimes accidentally call people, but we won’t go there right now.)

I recently upgraded to a smart phone, however, with a feature to prevent pocket dialing and I look forward to joining the iCloud in the sky, if I can cut through all the red tape. It’s always touted as very simple, but I find when I start these “simple” processes there are always major roadblocks I have trouble navigating. I perhaps should have just stayed with what I knew and left it at that.

But, along with those advancements that have made some things very easy and very worthwhile, some of them leave me scratching my head.

Like the changes in election processes.

I am sorely disappointed that local elections these days seem to be about as exciting as chewing cardboard.

“Back in the day,” Logan County hopefuls and constituents alike converged in the area of the basement of the Logan County Courthouse to await results from the Logan County Board of Elections office. There was a sense of excitement.

Precinct-by-precinct the votes would be tallied dutifully on a big chalkboard in the hall in neat columns containing all the ballot contests, options and levy requests that appeared before county residents. There was a sense of community, a sense of civic pride and a sense of a job well done as people gathered to learn the final results.

Those days are long gone as it seems now there is a huge push to vote way before the actual election day and there are rules about converging at the board of elections offices. Get that job done.

Why have an actual election day? Why not phone it all in?

I understand safeguards are needed to prevent election fraud and it’s important no one is hassled when casting a vote. I realize there are some legitimate reasons for absentee ballots and I am all for being able to have a say when you are not going to be able to vote in person, or when circumstances make it difficult to get out and vote. But, otherwise, why not just go vote on the day of voting?

The Logan County Board of Elections has worked diligently, especially the past few years, seeing that local precincts are set up properly for election day voting and that the workers in those precincts were aware of their positions and of their limitations, as required by law. Those measures have been duly noted and certainly are appreciated. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to vote where it seems the setup makes sense and things flow smoothly.  

But there seems to be no visible signs of anticipation now about the voting outcome. It’s just another day except some people sport “I Voted Today” stickers on their lapels if they remembered to pull them off the roll after putting their ballot in the counter. And, it’s no fun to color in the ovals on the ballots either. That just doesn’t have the same satisfaction as the punch book system of the past. You just walked up, flipped open the book of choices, slipped in your ballot and punched away. Satisfaction punch after punch. Now, you just get aggravated when you can’t stay in the lines. And you can sit at a table and do it with your friends if you don’t care who sees your choices. It doesn’t seem very respectful of the process and of the opportunity.

There is no public congregation of people awaiting the numbers. One is unable to see the “thrill of victory,” or the “agony of defeat.”

There is just nothing. From a newspaper perspective, it’s hard to find the candidates the night of election. It’s hard to find anyone reacting to anything. It’s just a blank void of near nothingness, except the final cumulative count, save those pesky conditional ballots.

But, the Examiner will have the election results. You can count on that.

Some things stay the same.

Miriam Baier is the editor of the Bellefontaine Examiner and will continue to vote in every election in which she is eligible to cast a vote (as she has since she could vote) even though she dislikes the current system in place in Logan County.