Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night 2008 at the Polling Place

I got to the Courthouse around 6 pm – an hour before closing. No one was voting! There have been a few voters coming in – but certainly no mad rush. There 185 (!!) absentee ballots in this precinct and over 500 have voted so far. Barring a mad rush at the end, there will be over 700 voters. There are 968 registered voters – and we don’t register by party in Mississippi.

I have no internet connection here, so there’s not much to do. The security guard has a TV, so I check in with her every so often, but she’s not paying close attention. She said Vermont had gone for Obama and Kentucky for McCain.

I’m feeling upbeat and calm about the national elections. I feel sure Obama/Biden will win easily – and we won’t be up all night waiting – or in the courts the next day. Statewide is different. I’m really hoping that Democrat Ronnie Musgrove can beat the Republican Roger Wicker, but I doubt it will happen.

My biggest concern is for the Supreme Court. Oliver Diaz is the incumbent. He’s a Democrat, although judges run in nonpartisan races. The Republican opponent is named “Bubba” Pearce. Can you imagine a Supreme Court Judge called Bubba? Big money – mostly from out of state – has poured into this race – and it has not been pretty. I have received more mail on this race than any other – almost all anti Diaz. I also got tons of anti Musgrove mail. I received no negative mail from Musgrove or Diaz – just positive – and always mentioning the rest of the Democratic candidates.

I’ve also received dozens of robo calls. Somehow the Republicans must think I’m one of them – or else their targeting is bad. The robo calls were not negative. This week I quit getting Republican calls – did they run out of money – or did they finally figure out I was a waste of time. But the calls for Musgrove and Diaz increased big time. Now the Democrats must think I’m black, because all the callers who identified themselves were prominent black politicians or lawyers – except Bill Clinton who called for Musgrove. My last call of the day was from Obama asking me to vote for Musgrove. Of course, I told him I would be happy to!

Of course, most of these calls were a waste of time, because a few weeks ago, I voted absentee – a privilege afforded those of us over 65. I also received a call from a real live pollster.

The voter turnout was 75% - amazing! Of the 968 registered voters, 535 voted today, plus the 185 absentee ballots.

The results for this precinct are interesting. McCain got 73% of the vote - not really surprising. However, Wicker got only 66% and Pearce only 58%. I think this looks good because Musgrove cut into the Republican vote - and Diaz even more so.

I must tell you about the absentee vote counting. The poll workers all knew what they were supposed to do - look at each absentee ballot, accept or reject it, stamp the voter as having voted absentee, and write their name in the book. However, they had no idea HOW to do it. After much discussion, this is what they came up with. One person carefully looked at each ballot to determine if it was acceptable. If she didn't know for sure, she asked for help from the election commissioners. Then she read out the name - and she was having trouble reading the writing and pronoucing the name. The rest of the poll workers had their voter lists divided up by alphabet - just like during the day. They did nothing while the first woman examined the ballot. Then they looked up the name after she read it and stamped it. Then the ballot went to another worker who wrote it in the book.

When I finally left, they had barely made a dent in the pile. It was all I could do to control myself from going over there and organizing a more efficient system. However, it was at least being done diligently and honestly.

The ballots won't be opened and actually counted until tomorrow or the next day.

Now I'm off to a victory (hopefully) party.

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