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Oct 26 2012

Absentee Voting

This November 6th marks the first time that I will be out of my precinct during general elections. I freaked out a bit when I realized this yesterday; I have never done absentee voting. Since the election is less than two weeks away my first thought was that I’d be too late to turn around a mail-in ballot. But a Google search for “Absentee Voting Minneapolis” gave me all the information I needed to make a decision about how to cast my absentee vote.

I chose to vote in person at Minneapolis City Hall. The Hubby has the week off, so he agreed to drive me downtown today. I could have easily taken public transportation, but this helped save me a few precious minutes so I could get down there, vote, and get to work on time.

I walked into City Hall and was immediately helped by one of the election office clerks. She had me fill out a brief absentee ballot application, then gave me my ballot and a manila envelope. I went to the privacy booth, marked my choices, sealed the ballot in the envelope and returned to the desk. The clerk then placed the manila envelope containing my ballot into a second envelope that was marked with my absentee voter information and filed it away until it can be counted (I think she mentioned they start tabulating votes after 5pm on Friday 11/2/12).

For me, this was a super easy process. Don’t be afraid to vote absentee! You do not have to be pre-registered. If you need a non-traditional voting alternative, do check out your local options.

Seeing the ballot was a bit surreal. I was especially struck by the Constitutional Amendment sections. Seeing the language on the ballot that I have been speaking about with friends and family and strangers for the past several months made my heart skip. There it was – the moment when I was able to make my stand on issues that I feel so strongly about. It was all I could do to keep from driving my pen through the paper as I covered every millimeter of the NO circles with dark black ink.

It was moving. Even as an activist who works to dispel this myth, some days in the far back corner of my mind I hear a whisper that tells me I can’t make a difference. But today there was no whisper. I felt empowered and I felt that my voice would be heard. Because I know that there are a lot of our voices out there. I felt connected to all of you who will join me in voting against discrimination in the next week and a half. This election cycle we’re going to make history.

7 comments

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  1. 1
    frogmistress

    Even as an activist who works to dispel this myth, some days in the far back corner of my mind I hear a whisper that tells me I can’t make a difference.

    You need your backup “You Can Make a Difference” Surly.

    I was making GOTV calls last night. I walked a lady through how to get her absentee ballot since she can’t make it to the polling place as she was sick and housebound. She thought it was too late and she wasn’t going to get to vote.

    I was happy I could help her.

  2. 2
    ericblair

    I am a poll worker in Wisconsin. Most of the time, I get assigned to work in the ward in which I normally vote, but occasionally get assigned elsewhere. When that happens, I vote early because I will not be able to get to my local ward on election day.

    In Wisconsin, paper ballots are marked with a #2 pencil and run through an optical scanner that reads and tabulates the votes (leaving a paper trail in the event of a dispute or recount). For disabled voters who have trouble reading or marking their ballot, we have a device called an Automark that provides touchscreen and spoken assistance and marks the ballots with a type of ink the scanners can read. It’s also used by the tinfoil-hat crowd who are convinced that their pencil-marked ballots could be erased and altered by ninjas in black helicopters (voters can review their ballot before scanning to make sure that it’s been marked correctly).

    When I am working at my ward, I’m the one who sets up the Automark. I test it by using it to mark my own ballot, making sure it’s marked correctly, and running it through the scaner to make sure it’s read successfully.

    However, whether I vote early or not, I post a sign on my front door with the following message:

    If You Are Here About The Election:
    I Voted Early
    You’re Too Late
    You Can’t Change My Mind
    Don’t Leave Literature
    Go Annoy Someone Else

    It keeps the door-to-door votemongers away.

    I have a second sign on my door, printed in German Fraktur script:

    Mit Romney?
    Nein!
    Ohne Romney!

    Now if I could only do something about those damnable phone calls…I can only block forty numbers.

  3. 3
    Trebuchet

    We applied for permanent absentee ballots years ago. The county must have thought that was a good idea as they went to mail-only voting some years ago. We’ll probably vote tomorrow.

  4. 4
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    Mail-in ballots :)

    It’s done, and now I can sneer at the political phone calls.

  5. 5
    Leafhuntress

    The American votingprocess is such a strange thing to see. For instance the need to register to vote, that you need to do that & that you register which party you will vote, that’s so eerie. Why would the government need to know how you will vote?
    And the voting in districts so that you only have 2 major parties. To be fair the UK has thát problem too.

    I’m so happy to live in a country that has more democracy than that, though the governmentformations can be a pain in the arse. Because we have a multipartysystem I can vote with my consience without being told that i “waste” my vote.

    What i find very nice is the happy tone in this blogpost. When it is a votingday i think people are smiling more too. Just like in a demonstration, people like to DO something, exercise their democratic rights, the feeling to belong to society.

    (^.^)

    1. 5.1
      ericblair

      Not all locations require a voter to register by party. In Wisconsin, where paper ballots are scanned, the scanner rejects imporperly marked ballots. For example, if you mark two candidates for the same office, the scanner kicks it back, and the voter can try again with a new ballot and the spoiled ballot is torn up and set aside. When there is a closed primary (when voters may only vote for candidates in one party or the other), the scanner also rejects ballots with cross-party voting, but the voter never has to declare a party preference before voting (which happens in some states, Illinois being one).

      Wisconsin voters have three chances to cast a vote. If the same person has thre spoiled ballots, they are allowed to mark a provisional ballot which is counted by hand.

      1. Leafhuntress

        Let me put it in another way;

        I never registered to vote. I just get my “oproepkaart”(calling card? the notice that one can vote in an election) in the mail, take it to the polling station, exchange it for a ballot. mark tha ballot with a pencil, drop it in the box & i’m done.

        There are no such things as primaries, the decision who to run is held by the party & those who are members of that party, it’s an internal vote, the state has no interferance there.

        In all my years as a voter & the times my parents took me i never had to wait longer than half an hour/ an hour & that was because i went at the wrong time (just after work in the national election of 2006, 80% of voters showed up).

        There is one voting day, from about 7:30 in the morning till 9 in the evening. Ballots are counted by hand & the results are usually “known” just after midnight.

        I know of one recount in Rotterdam & one voterfraud on the island of Vlieland by the rightwing VVD (the liberals *hehehe* ;-)

        Yes, the Netherlands is a small country, but when the whole EU votes, it’s the same & then one speaks about 1 and a half times the USA in population. I just don’t get the votersurpression & the long poll-lines. The troubles with voterrolls & the organization of the vote.
        That Texas is talking about refusing UN poll watchers is mindbogling.

        I know that rightwing idiots & the rapture ready crowd hate the UN, but it stays facepalmworthy…

        *sigh*

        I’m just hoping sooooo much that Obama gets re-elected.

        *crosses fingers*

        *uncrosses them because it is hard typing that way*

        I wish y’all the best of luck the next few weeks.

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