[Guest post by Ed from SFV]
Today was a cold, showery, and quite blustery day in Northern Indiana. A perfect moment for me to live out my dread in this election. I went to a government building and voted.
The location was on the western edge of downtown Mishawaka, IN. The town boomed right after WW II as a white flight from contiguous South Bend, home of the Studebaker plants which were attracting thousands of Southern minority emigrants, took hold. It’s claims to fame are, in some order, the place where the kick-ass Humvees are built; the shopping mecca for our region (envisioned by a staunch, Thatcher-like Republican Mayor in the 70s); the hometown of one of the soldiers General Patton famously slapped in a field hospital during WW II.
I arrived just before 2 PM, hoping to avoid any lunch rush. Success! There was a sign commanding NO CELL PHONES on the pane of an automatic sliding door. Huh? That’s some Homeland Security overreach. Maybe the TSA would be manning the checkpoint which had a metal detector, located a few yards inside the door. Nah. It was an older County Brownie (policeman). The TSA may have been a better alternative.
There were three seasoned citizens ahead of me. One was going through the detector, the other were a couple who had been married for over 50 years. He was an infirm Army vet who fought in the Korean conflict. He was trying to muster some strength as he leaned on his cane, and wall in the small entrance. The wife delayed handing her bag to the deputy and entering the detector. She was obviously concerned that she would be separated, even for a minute or two, from her struggling husband. I was happy — no, check that, I was honored — to wait. The deputy, not so much.
I was the end of a non-existent line. He grabbed her bag and ordered her through. She was confused and concerned. I wanted to jump ahead, but there was no real opportunity. She also wondered aloud about the cell phone she had in her bag. “Oh, said the deputy, if you are here to vote, we have a special today – you can have one.” Just perfect.
I checked with the vet to see if he was ready to go through, but he waved me off with a smile. His wife was calling after him and he told her he was OK. So, I dumped the contents of my pocket, including my cell phone, and with deep and obvious sarcasm looked the functionary in the eye and said how lucky I was that, “Today! There is an election special.” Of course, I waited to share that with him after I had successfully navigated the detector.
Parenthetically, back in the day, I was a proud auxiliary member of the FOP lodge associated with this county police department. Today, I wonder what the hell has happened to that force.
About a minute later, the vet made his way through without incident. From there, he joined us in a small line in the lobby of the small building where a makeshift polling station had been setup. There were two tables at a 90 degree angle, with two clerks each. The first table was to check-in, the 2nd to receive your ballot.
The vet’s wife wanted to be able to go up to that first table with her husband, which was just fine with me as I made sure to get behind him in that new line. A clerk overheard her and snippily snarled she would only allow one person at a time.
Our brave new world was disfunctioning perfectly in this fortunate and prosperous small town in the Rust Belt. I was more determined than ever to not vote to strengthen the hands of those who would completely subjugate us given any chance or opportunity to do so.
Now comes something very right. First, paper ballots. Indiana does not screw around when it comes to identifying voters at the polls. You must present a government-issued photo ID and it must match the roll to claim an unfettered ballot. Each verifying clerk had two tablets. One for them, and one for us. They were connected to the official voting rolls. I presented my Driver’s License and it was swiped. The woman looked at her screen and then turned the other around, asking me to verify that the information was correct, and there were no changes. There were not. I was then given a special felt-tipped pen and instructed to sign the bottom of the tablet to formally acknowledge what I had told her. She checked that signature against my DL! She then gave me a big smile and softly apologized for her colleague’s rudeness and insensitivity towards the Vet couple. She handed me an affidavit and a receipt which indicated the precise type of ballot I was to receive (all voters from all county precincts were voting here). If there were any hiccups to my process, I would have been offered a provisional ballot to fill out, subject to later authentication by the County Clerk.
I had hoped to be able to vote against a $25 million millage increase for schools, but it appeared I was jusssst outside that district. The clerk began to give me the desired, but wrong, ballot! She caught herself. Drat.
Each ballot required each of the two issuing clerks to initial it, and then it was stamped with the signature of the County Clerk. Each voter must sign and date an affidavit attesting to the information therein, and that they are eligible to vote. I signed and was handed my ballot, along with a small manila envelope, which I also had to sign and date. I was instructed to go over to a booth and when finished, to place the ballot in the envelope, seal it and return it to her.
If there is to be any fraud involved with early voting in my county, it will require a pretty good conspiracy.
I looked over, and my heart was warmed as the couple had the only two seated voting positions, right next to each other, and violated the RULES with impunity by talking to each other. Hah!
I then quickly realized that the other 6 booths were occupied! What? How? This ballot was unnecessarily complicated. It really did require a careful handling. A spot soon opened and I began.
There is no rhyme or reason as to where the various offices were placed. One thing caused me to chuckle a bit…in all contests, the Republican name was listed first. I made sure to begin with a YES vote on amending the Indiana Constitution to ensure hunting rights. Then, it was time to vote for president. I simply could not bring myself to even look at the printed names. My disgust and anger was very great. I searched for the Write-In line and the corresponding bubble to fill in. I wrote in “Evan McMullin,” the conservative who may end up taking Utah. Unfortunately, he was not timely and he is not an “officially declared” candidate here. Any votes for him, like mine, will not be counted. However, at least to me, those votes matter.
I voted for Young (Senate), Holcomb (Governor) and a fierce Libertarian named Arthus for the Indiana Senate (he has zero chance). I refused to vote for the incumbent Boehner-ite Walorski for Congress. I believe she earned a proctology degree she was so far up his butt. She is fabulous on veteran’s issues. Truly. But, she will cave on the big things, as she has already demonstrated.
I had no idea on retention of judges, so I left those blank. I went straight GOP on all other state and local contests.
I folded my ballot into the envelope, sealed it, and returned it as instructed. I was able to inquire as to the turnout in the fortnight since EV began. “Well over 10K votes” was the reply. Wow. I quickly glanced over to the now happy couple as they were still working through their ballots. I walked out past the brownie jerk, refusing to look his way.
As the automatic doors opened and I exited, greeted by a chill blast of moist air, I checked myself. What was I feeling? I was stunned to realize I was happy. I was proud. I was also glad that I have avoided what promises to be a nightmare of delays for voters on the 9th.
This has been the worst election cycle in my lifetime (First vote was for Ford.) The twisted contortions we are being made to endure are unprecedented. If HRC wins, with a Chuckie Schumer Senate, I am absolutely convinced there will be no saving our country. Yet…
For this one, last? time, I voted with a clear conscience. There were a few excellent folks whom I could trust to do as they have promised. I kept the faith. I refused to go along with the entrenched and establishment elitists running under the banner of my former party, and running roughshod over our sacred Constitution. I was able to actually appreciate a sadly ever more rare legitimate voting process. My chance encounter with that vet and his wife was a perfect reminder of what was at stake, and the incredibly profound privilege I had to exercise my rights.
Soon enough, it’ll be back to despair for me. Not today, though. No. Thanks be to God. Not today.
— Ed from SFV