Mirth, merriment and politics at the polls
It’s 6 a.m. Gary (Unit Leader), Linda, Orllyene and I, are groggy, but coherent. We step into the multi-purpose room of Smith Valley Library. The Voter’s Register Book, time book and plastic card machine are distributed. Unit Leader Gary arms the five voting machines. He then administers the oath and we agree to protect and defend the United States, and not desert our post for the next 12 hours.
Gary attaches his preprinted name tag to his shirt. He looks stunning. Dave, Linda, Orllyene and I are supplied with common name tags and a felt pen.
Gary deserves his lofty status. He’s the only person in the room on good terms with the voting machines. If a machine misfires, he tweaks it, and has it running in no time. He also comes to the aid of voters who grew up watching black and white television. They stand like deer blinded by headlights when they face our Darth Vader voting machines. Dave and I sit harmoniously next to each other. If I could repeat half the stories Dave tells, I could write a book.
Voters sign Dave’s roster of registered voters, I note the time they voted and Linda codes a voting card for each voter. My job exists for the unlikely happenstance that a meteor will destroy Dave’s book, and burn Linda’s machine to a crisp.
Linda is very intelligent. For 12 hours she sticks plastic cards in a slot, enters a secret code and a mini-second later out pops a programmed card. Only once does Linda make an error, and she goes so mildly ballistic that I’m prompted to comment, “Linda, you’re too hard on yourself. You feel so guilty.” Doesn’t help. Fixing me with her eyes, she confesses, “I have so much guilt that when I go to bed at night, I put it in a drawer beside the bed, and get it out in the morning when I get up.”
Orllyene sits adjacent to the exit. Several times during the day, I notice how exceedingly lovely she looks. Best move I ever made was marrying her.
If a voter tries to sneak out with one of our plastic voter cards, she challenges them with, ‘I’ll give you one of these I voted stickers, if you’ll put that card in this box.’”
If the number of Orllyene’s cards, the number of cards Linda gave out, Dave’s collected signatures, and the number of ballots cast on the machines doesn’t tally, we don’t go home until they do.
It’s obvious that a high degree of anxiety can build up over the course of 12 hours. I’ve found that continuous snacking is the only way to maintain a level of maximum effectiveness.
During the day, ranchers with 2” wide suspenders on their overalls, a young mother with a 7 week-old baby, 92 year old Freddie Fulstone, and my friend Kurt, who drives to Reno and back every day, are among our loyal voters. It’s an honor to be around people with that kind of resolve. I plan to re-enlist for November.
Ron Walker can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.