Tuesday, June 9th, 2020
Sammy and I have made a tradition over many years of walking to our polling place, up until recently the Ponce de Leon branch of the Atlanta Fulton Public Library. But the past couple (three? four?) elections the library has been closed for renovation and we instead had to drive a couple of miles (three?) to the Butler Street Baptist Church to cast our ballot. The election stuff was crammed in there somewhat awkwardly amidst the pews and the altar itself, giving the voting ritual a slightly odd overlay of beat-up golden chalices and tattered hymnals.
But this year! Big election year! Even the primary has some important races to weigh in on, and then a batch of odd party-preference questions (carrying absolutely no legal weight) and unopposed judges (who are probably very important in any consideration of judicial reform and yet, what do you do? Affirm them? Ignore them?)
After two coronavirus postponements (no, no, the virus is still very much around, but we’re going about our business here with varying degrees of safety and obliviousness), the Georgia Primary was today, and by many reports, it was a mess of considerable proportions. Here are just a couple of places to look for the details:
And having watched in annoyance fading to disgust as the state’s Republican Secretary of State supervised purchasing an complete state’s worth of rather dubious voting machines (to “fix” problems), and having watched how our state has been dealing with flattening the coronavirus curve (i.e., not very well), we decided for the first time ever to take up Georgia’s kind offer of a mail-in ballot, essentially an absentee ballot. We filled out our request forms and waited until, well, pretty much the last moment to receive them in the mail.
So, we spent this morning in contemplation, research, and correctly following instructions, and then took our sealed and oathed and signed ballots down to a dropoff box down at the Auburn Avenue library branch. (We were but one in a steady stream dropping by to drop off.)
And then, because we wondered what it would have been like if we just said, heck, let’s go down to the precinct to vote as normal, we drove by our polling place, and things were anything but normal. The lines snaked around the church and up the street, more than once. It was hot. People were hanging in with a fervor.
We have a fair amount of confidence that our votes counted, even without getting a coveted ‘I Voted’ sticker in person (pictured above. I mean, we have a couple of dozen of those things at this point.) We also have a fair amount of anger that many of our neighbors had to stand in line for hours, and some probably still couldn’t do what our country, our state, our county, our city has asserted is one of our highest civic responsibilities.
And so we look ahead to November, and yeesh, what can we do to make it better between now and then?