The Voters Were in the Dark

I was grateful for the chance to read Wendell’s experiences on election night, because I was so toasted after working at the precinct all day that all I had the strength to do was crawl home, cover my head, and hope the printouts looked better in the morning.

I worked precinct 46-05, Sunset Beach Elementary School, where I was the Voter-Assistance Official. I’m the guy you go to when you don’t see your name on the list of registered voters but you swear you registered. I’m the guy you go to when you received an absentee ballot in the mail but lost the envelopes you were supposed to mail your ballot back in. I’m the guy you see when you’re a registered voter in Montana and have been living in Haleiwa for two years, but never bothered to register to vote in Hawaii and now that you see how close the election might be, you think it might be a good idea to do something.

I mean, you only want to vote in the Presidential election, which is the same in Montana as it is here, so why not, right?

Right. Except, wrong.

My whole day was spent ironing out situations like this, trying to communicate with a guy at the central elections office on a cell phone with, like, half a reception bar showing on the cell-phone display. Helllllooooo Elections Office! It’s Sunset Beach.

Joking aside, the cell-phone problem created a major issue for me. Voters who have problems with their registrations had to fiill out Registration Affidavit Forms, and I was supposed to read the info off the forms to the guy at the state capitol. The lousy signal strength meant I was practically shouting names, birthdates, and social security numbers loudly enough, it seemed, for the guy at the capitol building to hear me without the use of a phone. Not pretty, and fairly dangerous.

When the power went out at 1:30, turning out the overheard lights and ceiling fans, everyone in the precinct whispered, “Conspiracy! Sabotage!” I was more concerned about whether the electronic voting machine and electric ballot-counter would function. It turns out they have auxiliary power and could have run eleven hours with no AC, or so they claim.

We were only in the dark for a couple of hours, but it was a long, hot couple of hours.

A couple of non-administrative highlights:

  • If things don’t work out for me in Kalihi, I’m moving to the North Shore. Everyone is so laid back they practically roll in on chaise lounges. You know, the folding lawnchair kind.
  • If things don’t work out for me in Kalihi, I’m moving to the North Shore. The women there were just beautiful–and I don’t just mean bodies and cleavage, although there was a lot of that, too–I mean the way they glowed with health and positive energy and good attitudes and no-stress. The beach is right across the street from the school, and a lot of people ran across the asphalt and just voted in their swimwear, still dripping from the ocean. Lovely.
  • Famous people I hung out with, because they had some registration problems: Owana Salazar, a local musician who does a kick-butt version of “Hi`ilawe” with Jimi Hendrix’s “Waterfall” medleyed into the middle. She was gracious and graceful and just lovely. Also Jack Johnson, who came in with his wife and small child. He hung out with me for a good forty minutes while I and my contact at the capitol building worked on his problem. Everyone who came through the doors greeted him, it seemed. He also left his wallet. Post-election drinks are on Jack Johnson, everyone!
  • I also met a woman whose last name was Novoselic. I had to ask. She said yes, but didn’t elaborate on what the relationship was, so I didn’t pry. I did say I really admired the guy–more now in his post-Nirvana days than before, even.
  • I spoke with people who looked just like Terri Garr and Lars Ulrich.
  • Nice Mexican dinner at Rosie’s Cantina in Haleiwa following the closing of the polls.

In all, a good experience. Being this busy on Election Day kept my mind off the national races and prevented me from spending all day in front of the television or on the Internet, holding my breath for each successive printout. I’d urge any registered voter to give it a try–it’s rewarding and kind of fun.

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